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Mental Illnesses Common In Urban Areas Due To Disconnect With Nature, According To New Study

First Posted: Jun 06, 2016 08:01 AM EDT

Mental illnesses and mood disorders are common in urban areas, and while there is no direct way of pinpointing the reason for such disorders, scientists found that this is partly due to the reduced access to nature.

Peter Kahn, a professor at the University of Washington was cited by The Indian Express to have said, "There is an enormous amount of disease largely tied to our removal from the natural environment."

The authors of the study published in the journal Science said that the growing tensions from the necessary role of the urban cities have disconnected humans from the natural world. He pointed out that seeing the stars, for instance, give people a feeling of awe and restoration. He shared, "As we build bigger cities, we are not aware of how much and how fast we are undermining our connection to nature and wilder nature which is the wellspring of our existence."

Kahn also said that it is more than just introducing nature to urban areas; people actually have to experience nature and be able to interact with it. For instance, looking at an office plant through the windowsill may be soothing, but having a place to sit on the grass during lunch break is an experience that could deepen a person's connection with Mother Nature.

So what is the solution to this certain disconnection to help improve the mental health of citizens? As stated by Science Daily, thoughtfully designed eco-cities can offer both the stimulation energy of an urban area, but include the psychological restorative environment that people need for their psychological well-being.

Kahn and his co-author, Terry Hartig said that further psychological studies will be needed to specify how experiencing nature could affect mental health and environmental attitudes, but today, they posit the question on how things could change if the car-clogged streets, lighted urban areas, and cement-filled blocks could make way for grass, stars, and child play.

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