More and more research shows that being in nature is good for mental health. But it is quite difficult to “prove these benefits scientifically”.
This fascinating study supports how much hearing and seeing birds sing uplifts our spirits. It provides fascinating proof that a biodiverse environment is healing for mental health.
Researchers at King’s College London have found that watching or hearing birds chirping is associated with an up to eight-hour improvement in mental wellness.
This improvement was also seen in people with depression, which is the most common mental illness in the world. This shows that birds may be able to help people with mental health problems.
The study, which was published in Scientific Reports, collected real-time reports of people’s mental health coupled with reports of seeing or hearing birdsong using the smartphone application Urban Mind.
The Medical Research Council (MRC), the Maudsley Biomedical Research Center, and the NIHR Applied Research Collaboration South London all provided funding for this investigation.
The study’s lead author, Ryan Hammoud, a research assistant at King’s College London’s Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology & Neuroscience (IoPPN), explains: “we intuitively think that the presence of birdsong and birds would help lift our mood. However, there hasn’t been much research done to truly examine how birds affect mental health in the present and in a real context. Using the Urban Mind app, researchers were able to demonstrate for the first time the connection between hearing or seeing birds and feeling good.
Using the Urban Mind app, researchers were able to demonstrate for the first time the connection between hearing or seeing birds and feeling good.
The Urban Mind app, created by King’s College London, landscape architects J&L Gibbons, and arts charity Nomad Projects, was used by 1,292 users to complete 26,856 assessments between April 2018 and October 2021.
People from all over the world were asked to take part, but most of them came from the United Kingdom, the European Union, and the United States of America.
The app asked people three times a day if they could see or hear birds. This was followed by questions about their mental health, which helped researchers find a link between the two and figure out how long this link lasted.
The study also looked at people’s mental health diagnoses and found that hearing or seeing birds was linked to better mental health in both healthy people and those with depression. Researchers found that the links between birds and mental health could not be explained by things like trees, plants, or waterways that were also present.
“The term ecosystem services is often used to describe the benefits of certain aspects of the natural environment on our physical and mental health,” adds Senior author, Andrea Mechelli.
But it’s challenging to “prove these benefits scientifically”.
The findings of the study offer “an evidence base for creating and supporting biodiverse spaces that harbour birdlife, since this is strongly linked with our mental health.”
Also, the results support the idea of putting in place measures to make it easier for people to see birds, especially those with mental health problems like depression.
Image Credit: Getty
You were reading: More Evidence Being Around Birds Can Improve Your Mental Health