Thursday June 20, 2024

Nature-based methods help youths with mental health challenges

Published : 04 Dec 2023, 22:17

  DF Report
File Photo: Lapland Material Bank by Iiro Kerkelä.

Nature-based methods help young people with challenges related to mental health and behavior, according to a study conducted by the Natural Resources Institute (Luke) and the University of Jyväskylä.

Nature-based methods can also be used to promote the integration of immigrants, said Luke in a press release, quoting the study.

An increasing number of young people are experiencing anxiety and depression, said the studies.

Two international literature reviews were produced in collaboration between Luke and the University of Jyväskylä to examine the benefits of nature-based methods.

The first review examined how nature-based methods have supported the well-being of young people living in precarious situations. Another review studied the nature-based activities and experiences of people with an immigrant background around the world.

"The information compiled in the international studies can potentially be used to support the well-being of young people and the integration of immigrants also in Finland", said Senior Scientist Katja Kangas.

Young people faced a range of challenges that put them at risk of missing out on education or working life.

Various nature-based methods such as forest interventions, care farming, outdoor adventure interventions, horticulture, environmental conservation and animal-assisted interventions were applied to address youth welfare challenges.

"Nature-based methods were found to help young people with mental health and behavioural challenges, improve self-esteem and coping skills, and enhance their ability to participate in education and work", said PhD researcher James Obeng.

"On the other hand, some studies found that participating in nature-based activities can cause fear, anxiety, tiredness, injuries and deterioration of well-being. In addition to bad weather conditions, a nature activity that was too difficult or unpleasant, such as for example long hiking trip, led to negative experiences," Obeng added.

Another literature review found that natural environments and nature-based activities can contribute to the integration of people with migrant background. Used activities in the natural environment included walking and other exercise, gardening, as well as barbecuing and picnics, according to the studies. These were either self-motivated or organized activities.

"Positive experiences experienced by migrants during nature activities included for example social interaction, experiencing nature and emotional attachment to places", PhD researcher Shailendra Rai said.

On the other hand, in some cases there were concerns related to one's own safety, such as discrimination from the resident population, poor accessibility of nature and lack of information and communication.

"It is good to note that the Migrants come from different countries, cultures, and natural environments, so the same nature activity in a particular environment cannot be applied to everyone. There is a need for tailored methods based on nature, as suitable nature activities vary according to individual factors," said Rai.

"The need for tailored nature-based methods applies also to young people in precarious situations", Obeng added.