Modern psychology has managed to connect mental health to everything, from driving down a crowded highway to sexual health. They’ve even managed to cover almost everything in between. However, one aspect that they have ignored and have not recognized is the possibility that one’s environment and surroundings might play a larger role in mental health than previously noted. The existence of the problem known as seasonal affective disorder (SAD) implies that things like the weather can have an effect on mental health.
However, in most cases, psychological effects that might be caused by environment can often be adequately explained by other factors. For example, if depression comes during a time of year when seasonal unemployment kicks in, the prospect of losing a job is more likely to be seen as the cause of the problem. By most standards, a vast majority of mental health disorders that appear to be related to environmental factors can be explained by more…mundane things. This also contributes to the nature of the aforementioned SAD, which can only be diagnosed by eliminating all other possibilities.
Despite the situation, there are a few who are attempting to establish greater links between nature and mental health, but the research has been slow to progress. With the exception of SAD, the obvious angle to take in this endeavor would be using nature as stress relief. It is not unusual for certain sights and sounds in nature to have a calming effect on people, often quickly alleviating things such as stress and anxiety. There are a lot of things from nature that can be used to calm and relax someone, though what exactly performs best can often vary depending on the personality and tastes of the patient in question.
The main focus of the studies linking sanity to nature, however, focuses on whether or not nature can have an appreciable effect on one’s mental state. This, of course, does not include high-pressure situations that a person can find himself in. For example, studies of this sort would typically exclude being stranded on a deserted place or running from predators, as those situations can easily have factors that can rule out the “nature” part of the study. The research also focuses on everyday situations where nature would have an effect, but would also allow researchers to rule out other possible causes.
Understandably, this is exceedingly difficult to pull-off. High-risk and high-stress situations in a natural environment are not suitable for this study, simply because the natural environment is merely causing the factors that affect mental illness. The most confusing part of this is, it is difficult to really ascertain what the study would actually cover. SAD, as noted, is an example of what nature can do to the human mind, but there is the possibility that the reason psychology hasn’t found anything similar to it is because there are no others like it.
There is, of course, the distinct possibility that besides SAD, nature doesn’t directly cause any form of insanity in people. It would be a reasonable assumption, but only because of the lack of evidence pointing to the contrary. Besides, for some reason, most researchers simply aren’t interested in delving deeper into the why or how nature calms the mind and clears it of negative emotions.