How Nature Benefits Mental Health: Empirical Evidence, Prominent Theories, and Future Directions

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articleContributedpeer-review



We present an overview of the evidence of how nature benefits mental health, popular theories used to explain the effects, and the development potential of these theories. A large body of evidence highlights the beneficial effects of nature on mental health, with observed outcomes ranging from alleviating the symptoms of psychiatric disorders to improvements in cognitive abilities. The theoretical backbone for these salutary effects of nature consists of a set of models, mainly the attention restoration theory (ART), the stress reduction theory (SRT), and the Biophilia hypothesis. However, these high-level models are only loosely related and lack a pronounced biopsychological basis. While biopsychological measurements have been used widely in recent years, these efforts have not sufficiently been reflected in theories aiming to explain the benefits of nature contact for mental health. This paper seeks to encourage interdisciplinary work and further theory development to guide both research and practice toward strategically green and healthy living conditions.


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)223-233
Number of pages11
Journal Zeitschrift für klinische Psychologie und Psychotherapie : Forschung und Praxis
Issue number3-4
Publication statusPublished - 23 Nov 2022

External IDs

unpaywall 10.1026/1616-3443/a000674
WOS 000888486900001
Scopus 85143272622
ORCID /0000-0001-7542-0243/work/142239756


ASJC Scopus subject areas


  • Natur, psychische Gesundheit, Stress, nature, mental health, biological psychology, environmental psychology, QUALITY, GREEN SPACE, ENVIRONMENT, CITIES, RESTORATION, RECOVERY, RESPONSES, THERAPY, STRESS, EXPOSURE

Library keywords