The mental health of kids is in a sad state.
A report published in the American Psychological Association's Journal of Abnormal Psychology found that the number of 12- to 17-year-olds reporting symptoms of major depression jumped 52 percent over the past 10 to 12 years.
Consistent with the rise in mental health issues among young people, antidepressant use is also on the rise in kids, by as much as 49%. If you find that alarming, consider that the fastest growing segment of users according to the study were preschool children aged 0-5 years.
Fortunately, nature may be one of the best approaches to prevention and cheapest therapies for many of these kids. And the mainstream media has caught on. The benefits of the outdoors for our health has made a cliche out of proclaiming nature as the cover model for magazines from Outside to Sierra to Vogue.
It's good they're paying attention. Because the results are definitely in. Access to green space is associated with improved mental well-being, overall health and cognitive development of children. Nature helps with attention, memory, social support, self-discipline, stress and improves behaviors and symptoms of ADHD.
One study from Denmark showed that kids who grew up surrounded by nature had up to 55% less risk of developing various mental disorders later in life
And in a culture where we expect everything fast and easy, nature is compliant. Studies are reporting such benefits from nature they are calling them a "nature fix" or "nature pill."
A recent study of 30,000 students aged 11–15 years found that just spending 30 minutes a week outdoors comes with a 24% lower rate of ‘high psychosomatic symptoms.”
According to one study, children’s stress levels fall within minutes of seeing green spaces. According to forest bathing expert Miyazaki Yoshifumi, even small elements of nature have a physiological relaxation effect for us.
Don’t have 30 minutes? A recent study found that spending just five minutes in nature can quickly improve your mood.
Of course, as much time as possible outdoors is great for a kid’s physical, mental and emotional fitness but, if 5 minutes is all you have, isn't it good that there's always nature out there, somewhere?