This policy briefing builds on the evidence set out in our research report to propose some priority policy areas for Wales. We begin by introducing the current context for the relationship between nature and mental health, and an overview of the key issues, and then go on to set out our detailed policy recommendations.
Introduction & Overview
As human beings, we are all profoundly influenced by the environment we grow up in and in which we live. Our social, economic, and cultural circumstances all affect our emotional development and wellbeing, and so too does our connection with nature.
Nature’s wellbeing is intrinsic to our own experience of health and wellbeing.
The natural environment has the potential to be enormously beneficial to our health and wellbeing, yet almost everywhere we look, the role and visibility of nature is diminishing. The night sky is obscured by light pollution, many biodiverse wild areas have been replaced by agricultural monocultures, and, in our daily lives, technology and screen use is rising while mindful time spent in nature is declining.
As well as the obvious ecological implications of these trends, the deterioration of our natural world and our connection with it has damaging consequences for our mental wellbeing. Our research report for this year’s Mental Health Awareness Week sets out the evidence demonstrating the link between nature and mental health and shows that better engagement with nature can benefit our mental health.
We also commissioned a YouGov poll in Wales to explore people’s relationship with nature and how it relates to their mental health.