Is conserving biodiversity the key to good mental health?
The biodiversity of our planet sustains us. From the air we breathe and the water we drink, to the soil we sow and the fuel we use. Earth does more than provide the basic necessities that allow humans to survive. Our ability to experience nature could have the capacity to improve our well-being and consequently mental health.
We readily spend our hard-earned money and time on a variety of pursuits to experience nature’s wonders: from expensive safaris to sedate bird watching in the garden. And we have good reason to, a number of studies show that by engaging with the earth’s natural diversity there are health benefits to be had. But, with the earth’s biodiversity in decline, it’s worth taking a look at how this will in turn affect human well-being and health.
In a recent study of ours we argue that biodiversity loss could threaten the well-being benefits we get from nature, with potential repercussions for human mental health. Mental health disorders already affect nearly nine million people in the UK and are projected to cost £88.5 billion by 2026. So, if biodiversity loss does impact on mental health, it could be even more costly than previously thought.