People living in neighbourhoods with more birds, shrubs and trees are less likely to suffer from depression, anxiety and stress, a new study claims.
The study, involving hundreds of people, found benefits for mental health of being able to see birds, shrubs and trees around the homes, whether people lived in urban or more leafy suburban neighbourhoods.
Mental health of over 270 people from different ages, incomes and ethnicities was surveyed. It was found that those who spent less time outdoors than usual in the previous week were more likely to experience anxiety and depression.
In the study by researchers, including those from University of Exeter in the UK, common types of birds including blackbirds, robins, blue tits and crows were seen.
The study was unable to find a relationship between the species of birds and mental health, but found a link between the number of birds they could see from their windows, in the garden or in their neighbourhood.
Previous studies had found that the ability of most people to identify different species is low, suggesting that for most people it is interacting with birds, not just specific birds, that provides well-being.
“This study starts to unpick the role that some key components of nature play for our mental well-being,” said Dr Daniel Cox of University of Exeter.
Researchers also found that lower levels of depression, anxiety and stress were associated with the number of birds people could see in the afternoon.
“Birds around the home, and nature in general, show great promise in preventative health care, making cities healthier, happier places to live,” Cox added.