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To mark Mental Health Awareness Week, we wanted to reflect on the positive impact of nature and biodiversity on our well-being.

This year’s Mental Health Awareness week is particularly important given the challenges facing the world. We share six facts - from our ongoing research on planetary boundaries and social thresholds – particularly considering the connections between nature, biodiversity and mental health

1. The World Health Organisation reports that mental disorders affect 1 in 4 people globally. Mental wellbeing is intrinsically linked to the natural environment and doctors now prescribing nature experiences as alternatives to medicines

2. Nature experience directly affects human mental health. A strong connection to the natural environment enhances emotional wellbeing and alleviates feelings of social isolation. It has also been shown to help sufferers from mental health conditions like attention disorders, mood disorders, and anxiety

3. Planetary Boundary #2, the loss of biosphere integrity, is classed as high-risk status – beyond the zone of uncertainty. The current and projected rates of biodiversity loss, as measured by the Biodiversity Intactness Index and Extinction Rate, constitute the sixth major extinction event in the history of life on Earth and the first as a direct consequence of human activities

4. The UN reports that 1 million plant and animal species are now at risk of extinction. The extinction rate of seed plants — including most trees, flowers and fruit-bearing plants — is about 500 times faster than what would be expected naturally [1]

5. With more than 40% of the world’s economies being derived from biological resources [2] we looked at how the world’s largest companies are reporting their impact on biodiversity. Our research showed that 30% of companies are measuring their impact on biodiversity but only 8% have set targets to help mitigate biodiversity loss. More worryingly these figures have not changed in the past 12 months

6. Our research also showed how the world’s largest companies are reporting their impact on Social Threshold #2, health. Whilst the number of companies measuring their impact has increased to 32%, only 10% have set targets to help address health needs. This shows a decline in the past 12 months.


1 Humphreys et al. 2015

2 Convention on Biological Diversity 2014

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