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Open AccessArticle

Wetlands for Wellbeing: Piloting a Nature-Based Health Intervention for the Management of Anxiety and Depression

1
The Wildfowl & Wetlands Trust, Slimbridge, Gloucester GL2 7BT, UK
2
Durrell Institute of Conservation and Ecology (DICE), School of Anthropology and Conservation, University of Kent, Canterbury CT2 8NR, UK
3
Social, Economic and Geographic Sciences, James Hutton Institute, Craigiebuckler, Aberdeen AB15 8QH, UK
4
Sustainability Research Institute, School of Earth and Environment, University of Leeds, Leeds LS9 2JT, UK
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2019, 16(22), 4413; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph16224413
Received: 14 October 2019 / Revised: 6 November 2019 / Accepted: 8 November 2019 / Published: 11 November 2019
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Nature-Based Therapies and Human Health)
Nature-based health interventions (NBIs) for the treatment of poor mental health are becoming increasingly common, yet evidence to support their effectiveness is lacking. We conduct a pilot study of a six-week intervention, aiming to engage individuals with wetland nature for the treatment of anxiety and/or depression. We employed a mixed methods design, using questionnaires, focus groups and semi-structured interviews to evaluate the intervention from the perspective of participants (n = 16) and healthcare professionals (n = 2). Results demonstrate significant improvements in mental health across a range of indicators, including mental wellbeing (Warwick and Edinburgh Mental Wellbeing Scale), anxiety (Generalised Anxiety Disorder-7), stress (Perceived Stress Scale) and emotional wellbeing (Positive and Negative Affect Schedule). Participants and healthcare professionals cited additional outcomes including improved physical health and reduced social isolation. The wetland site provided a sense of escape from participants’ everyday environments, facilitating relaxation and reductions in stress. Wetland staff knowledge of the natural world, transportation and group organisation also played a considerable role in the intervention’s success. These aspects should be considered in future and existing NBIs to maximise benefits to participants. We propose NBIs based in wetlands are an effective therapy option for individuals diagnosed with anxiety and/or depression. View Full-Text
Keywords: attention restoration theory; biodiversity; blue space; ecosystem services; green space; mental health; mixed methods; nature-based therapy; social prescribing; stress attention restoration theory; biodiversity; blue space; ecosystem services; green space; mental health; mixed methods; nature-based therapy; social prescribing; stress
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Maund, P.R.; Irvine, K.N.; Reeves, J.; Strong, E.; Cromie, R.; Dallimer, M.; Davies, Z.G. Wetlands for Wellbeing: Piloting a Nature-Based Health Intervention for the Management of Anxiety and Depression. Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2019, 16, 4413.

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