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Sharing – Nature helps mental health, research says—but only for rich, white people?

I enjoyed this article because it speaks to something we don’t talk about enough in the mental health advocacy space nearly enough. We refer to studies quite often about what kinds of self-care might be helpful to try. I’ve often talked about the fact that we often don’t understand the numbers behind the study, but this article makes clear that there is something else we haven’t paid enough attention to:

“New research shows that a rapidly-growing environmental science field—which measures nature’s effects on human well-being—has a diversity problem that threatens its ability to make universal scientific claims.”

See, it’s easy to tell people who live pretty comfortable lives what a difference some time in nature can make for their anxiety or other issues. People living in poverty or dealing with racism every day might not get the same benefit from an afternoon hike. We don’t know what impact it would have, because we’ve mainly only been testing in relatively wealthy countries with relatively wealthy subjects.

We should be considering all of the societal and environmental obstacles that exist for people when it comes to mental health challenges. I suspect it’s only very recently that we’ve begun to do that, so any of our typical “advice” about self-care might not be appropriate until we’ve done more.

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