Mental Health

A number of studies have demonstrated how direct contact with vegetation or nature leads to increased mental health and psychological development. Recent data show that depression and other mental-health disorders will account for some of the world’s largest health problems in upcoming decades. People do not have to actively use nature to benefit from it; rather, visual exposure is enough. It is important to consider that different groups of people have differing views of what constitutes nature in the built environment, with variation by education level, age, ethnicity, profession, residential location, etc.

Design for Health (DFH) Materials

Other Resources

Journals and Journal Articles

  • Healthy Nature Healthy People
    This systematic review of the literature on parks and human health finds benefits in stress reduction. Published in Health Promotion International it is available at many university libraries.

Protocols, Kits and Guides

  • Active Living Research: Tools and Measures 
    This Web site provides links to over fifteen urban-design and park audit tools, produced by researchers from a variety of institutions, including the University of Minnesota, Harvard School of Public Health, and the University of Western Australia.

Web Sites

  • The Trust for Public Land Center for City Park Excellence
    This center has conducted a number of studios on the benefits of parks including those associated with heath.
  • InformeDesign 
    InformeDesign is a research and communication tool for designers. Its search engine provides research summaries on many health themes. Each article summary has the following elements: design issue, design criteria, key concepts, research method, limitations, and commentary.
  • Sustainable Sites Initiative
    This collaboration between the American Society of Landscape Architects, the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, and the United States Botanic Garden has produced voluntary guidelines and benchmarks for site planning and land design. One of the areas of focus of this tool is on human health and well-being.
  • Therapeutic Landscapes Network
    Focusing on gardens and other landscapes, with a particular emphasis on gardens in healthcare settings, the web site of the Therapeutic Landscapes Network is a well-designed and maintained resource. Its section on evidence-based design includes online searchable databases and lists of books and articles.

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