Seeing and hearing birds would be very beneficial for mental health

Seeing and hearing birds would be very beneficial for mental health

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trip to the park a few minutes walk in the forest, the sound of lapping waves or a stream, are known to calm us and improve our mood, so these sounds are artificially reproduced in devices aimed at well-being. In particular, immersion in nature has been scientifically proven to benefit mental health, an often underestimated ecosystem service. A study proves for the first time that the simple fact of seeing and hearing birds is very beneficial for our mental health, even in cases of depression. This discovery underscores the importance of protecting the biodiversity in which avifauna can flourish.

Everything we use from nature, all the benefits that ecosystems offer us, are included in what are called “ecosystem services”. These range from food and clean air to fresh water, pollination and fossil resources. However, it is less well known that cultural experiences (sciences related to the environment), recreational and well-being related experiences are also part of it. Especially for well-being, we often tend to underestimate the potential of nature.

Ecosystem restoration professionals map all of these services to plan their restoration projects. To achieve this, they have to consider thousands of parameters, with goals very different from simple reforestation. Similar to bats, which use ultrasound to navigate or locate prey, birds, for example, are extremely sensitive to canopy height. Natural bird habitats must have different canopy heights, and this is one of the reasons why monocultures associated with intensive agriculture (where plants and trees are all the same height), uncontrolled urbanization and poorly planned afforestation can harm birds.

Agroforestry and urban agroecology are among the most widely used solutions in an effort to provide habitat – however small – that can protect some biodiversity, including birds. Although some (like pigeons) have adapted to cities, most require a minimum of trees (or semi-aquatic flora, depending on the species) to survive.

A new study published in the journal Scientific reports, outlines the importance of the ecosystem services that birds can provide us. According to scientists, hearing their chirping and watching them flutter would be an important multi-sensory experience for our well-being and our mental health. The study “captures interesting evidence that biodiversity-rich environments are restorative in terms of mental well-being,” he explains communicated Jo Gibbons, new study research partner and landscape architect at J&L Gibbons.

A new study led by researchers at King’s College London provides some of the first quantifiable scientific evidence of the benefits of the natural environment on our health. ” The results further support the implementation of measures to increase opportunities for people to watch birds, especially those living with mental health problems such as depression. says Andrea Mechelli, Professor of Early Intervention in Mental Health at King’s College and lead author of the study.

Effects specific to birds

To support their hypothesis, researchers in the new study collected real-time data using the Urban Mind app developed by King’s College. The data concerned the mental state of 1,292 volunteers who interacted with birds outdoors. ” There is growing evidence of the mental health benefits of being in nature, and we intuitively believe that the presence of birdsong and birds in general would help improve our mood. However, little research has actually examined the impact of birds on mental health in real-time and in real-world settings. says Ryan Hammoud, research assistant at King’s College’s Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology and Neuroscience and co-author of the study.

Between 2018 and 2021, the researchers collected nearly 26,856 data from participants, split between the United States, the European Union, and the United Kingdom. Taking each participant’s personal health into account, Urban Mind recorded whether they were able to see or hear birds three times a day. They were also sent a mental well-being and mood enhancement questionnaire to gauge how long the birds were able to affect them.

The result: hearing and seeing birds was associated with a significant improvement in mood, both in people with good mental health and in people suffering from depression. Additionally, these effects can last up to eight hours. Furthermore, the researchers suggest that bird-induced effects do not necessarily depend on the presence of trees or watercourses, but are specific to them. However, as this is their habitat, it is important to maintain these areas for their long-term preservation, as their presence could potentially contribute to solving real public health problems.

source: Scientific report

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