Home Business News Over 1 million fewer people across the UK gained health benefits

Over 1 million fewer people across the UK gained health benefits

by LLB staff reporter
27th Nov 23 12:52 pm

The Office for National Statistics published a report on Monday showing that an estimated 1.1 million fewer people across the UK gained health benefits from spending time in nature in 2022 compared with two years earlier.

The value of those lost health benefits was estimated at around £390 million, equivalent to £356 per person on average.

That is how much it is thought the NHS would be willing to spend if it used treatments to achieve equivalent health benefits to those gained from time spent in nature.

This drop in health benefits was also equivalent to more than 22,000 years of life in perfect health lost across people in the UK.

The trend was caused by a drop in the number of visits to – and time spent in – nature over the last two years. The number of visits is now back to levels last seen in 2019, significantly down from a coronavirus pandemic-led peak in 2020.

Dr Jo Burrell said, “The notion that nature profoundly impacts mental health was first proposed by Freud in 1929.

“The emergence of ecopsychology in the 1990s solidified this link, connecting time spent in nature with improved mental well-being and resilience. Notably, the US and UK military have integrated these principles into initiatives aimed at reconnecting soldiers with nature, utilising activities like gardening, farming, retreats and outdoor adventures to enhance resilience.

“A 2020 study involving 3000 participants reinforced the positive connection between green space access and mental wellbeing. Even window views of nature were shown to enhance mental health.

“Increased access with nature correlates with lower levels of depression, anxiety and loneliness while fostering higher self-esteem, life satisfaction, and happiness. Even small interactions with nature can stimulate the parasympathetic nervous system, inducing a calming effect on the body and reducing stress.”

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