Nature-Based Interventions and Mind-Body Interventions: Saving Public Health Costs Whilst Increasing Life Satisfaction and Happiness

Author: Jules Pretty1, Jo Barton2
1 School of Life Sciences, University of Essex, Colchester CO4 3SQ, UK.
2 School of Sport, Rehabilitation and Exercise Sciences, University of Essex, Colchester CO4 3SQ, UK.
Conference/Journal: Int J Environ Res Public Health
Date published: 2020 Oct 23
Other: Volume ID: 17 , Issue ID: 21 , Pages: 7769 , Special Notes: doi: 10.3390/ijerph17217769. , Word Count: 219

A number of countries have begun to adopt prevention pays policies and practices to reduce pressure on health and social care systems. Most affluent countries have seen substantial increases in the incidence and costs of non-communicable diseases. The interest in social models for health has led to the growth in use of social prescribing and psychological therapies. At the same time, there has been growth in application of a variety of nature-based and mind-body interventions (NBIs and MBIs) aimed at improving health and longevity. We assess four NBI/MBI programmes (woodland therapy, therapeutic horticulture, ecotherapy/green care, and tai chi) on life satisfaction/happiness and costs of use of public services. These interventions produce rises in life satisfaction/happiness of 1.00 pts to 7.29 (n = 644; p < 0.001) (for courses or participation >50 h). These increases are greater than many positive life events (e.g., marriage or a new child); few countries or cities see +1 pt increases over a decade. The net present economic benefits per person from reduced public service use are £830-£31,520 (after 1 year) and £6450-£11,980 (after 10 years). We conclude that NBIs and MBIs can play a role in helping to reduce the costs on health systems, while increasing the well-being of participants.

Keywords: green social prescribing; happiness; life satisfaction; mind–body interventions; nature-based interventions.

PMID: 33114167 PMCID: PMC7660642 DOI: 10.3390/ijerph17217769