UVM research finds lack of diversity in studies on nature’s impact on mental health

Published: May. 10, 2022 at 5:55 PM EDT
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BURLINGTON, Vt. (WCAX) - Studies show that getting outside can improve mental health, but much of those findings primarily focus on white, wealthy people, according to new research from the University of Vermont’s Gund Institute for the Environment.

Gund researchers looked at 174 studies on mental health and nature. They say many of them only sample populations in universities and university towns and that researchers need to change the way these kinds of studies are done to better understand how various communities and ethnic groups react to nature.

“We need to understand which of these effects -- being in nature’s effects on mental health -- are universal and which are culturally specific. And because we haven’t done this on a wide swath of people, we don’t know which are universal and which are culturally specific,” said Rachel Gould, one of the UVM researchers.

The study, “Chronic deficiency of diversity and pluralism in research on nature’s mental health effects: A planetary health problem,” was published last week in Current Research in Environmental Sustainability.

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