A recent study published in Ecological Applications suggests that simply having nature around an individual's home may help mitigate some of the negative mental health effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. Additionally, a similar study from six years ago corroborates the findings and the potential impact on public mental health.
Green space and Mental Health
Due to COVID-19, researchers in Japan set out to see if the nature found around people's homes acted as a mitigating factor against adverse mental health outcomes experienced during the pandemic and the measures taken to address it. Specifically, isolation within the home and limited time spent outdoors. The study, published in the journal Ecological Applications from the Ecological Society of America under the title, "A room with a green view: the importance of nearby nature for mental health during the COVID-19 pandemic" set out to quantify the association between five mental health outcomes and two nature-based experiences.
While this isn't a first of its kind study, the research corroborates earlier research on green space and its positive effects on mental health from a similar study in 2014. That study, "Exposure to Neighborhood Green Space and Mental Health: Evidence from the Survey of the Health of Wisconsin" was published in 2014 in the International Journal of Environment Research and Public Health. The Wisconsin study focused on a population-level perspective from the United States to examine the relationship between environmental green space and mental health outcomes in a study area that included a spectrum of urban to rural environments. While the two studies utilized different methodologies, both implied the potential to impact public mental health.
The Japanese researchers conducted an online survey of 3,000 individuals in Tokyo, Japan. They were surveyed on their mental health outcomes as well as the nature-based experiences they had. The outcomes and experiences are listed below.
Mental Health Outcomes
Frequency of green space use
Green view through windows from home
The Research Results
The research team accounted for sociodemographic as well as lifestyle variables and found that the frequency of green space use and the existence of green window views from within the home was associated with increased levels of self-esteem, life satisfaction, and subjective happiness and decreased levels of depression, anxiety, and loneliness. The data (available here) suggested that a "regular dose" of nature can contribute to the improvement of a wide range of mental health outcomes. Similarly, the 2014 Wisconsin study findings showed that higher levels of neighborhood green space were associated with significantly lower levels of symptomatology for depression, anxiety, and stress. Both studies suggest that exposure to green space or "greening" has great potential for improved public mental health.
Documenting Public Mental Health
In years past, the idea of interoperability wasn't yet cemented among medical professionals and it was laborious to share just the right amount of patient data to public health officials. Today, interoperable systems such as the InSync Healthcare Solutions electronic health records (EHR) software enables practices to share their demographic information with the state as well as pull in lab results for patients. Community behavioral health centers rely on the InSync EHR for this reason as well as the fact that the system is fully integrated, allowing for a single EHR system to handle everything from therapy notes, to scheduling, appointment reminders, and even full medical billing software. If you're looking for ways to make your practice more efficient with software that allows for interoperability, schedule a call with an InSync Healthcare Solutions representative today to see how we can help.