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The effect of nature exposure, nature connectedness on mental well-being and ill-being in a general Chinese population

The lifetime prevalence of various mental disorders among Chinese population has reached up to 16.6%. The burden of mental disorders ranked the second in the overall disease burden. Thus, pro-mental health infrastructure and intervention are imperative. A large body of evidence shows that greenspace exposure (the amount of nature contacts) could reduce the incidence of mental illness and enhance mental well-being. However, how nature connectedness (subjective sense of their relationship with the natural world) would influence the nature-mental health relationship is largely unknown.

Researchers from South China Botanical Garden, Chinese Academy of Sciences conducted survey collecting large amount of data on residents’ greenspace exposure, nature connectedness and mental health in 2020. Research found that both nature exposure and nature connectedness are positively associated with mental health outcomes. Having a higher-than-average nature connectedness is associated with a 7% increase in feelings of worthwhileness, a 6.4% increase in life satisfaction, and a 2.5% decrease in depression risk. In addition, the mental benefits of nature exposure are stronger in population with a higher-than-average nature connectedness. This study indicates that a shift in policymaking to enhance nature connectedness is recommended to achieve the related psychological benefits.


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