Oct. 27, 2022 -- The sound of birds singing has always delighted poets, who have often written about its calming effect. Now a newly released study says that birdsong is good for mental health.
Academics from King’s College London found that hearing birds, seeing them, and having ordinary encounters with birds improved the mood of people who have depression, and of the broader population as well.
The study followed about 1,300 people throughout their everyday encounters with birds last year using a smartphone app called Urban Mind. The people were in Britain, Europe, the United States, Australia, and China.
Using the app, study participants recorded how they were feeling, if they were stressed or happy, if they could see trees, and whether they could see or hear birds.
Average mental wellbeing scores increased when people saw or heard birds, even for people who had been previously diagnosed with depression.
“We need to create and support environments, particularly urban environments, where bird life is a constant feature. To have a healthy population of birds, you also need plants, you also need trees. We need to nurture the whole ecosystem within our cities,” King’s College London professor Andrea Mechelli said in The Guardian.
He said it was important to learn that birds have a positive effect on people with depression, since many treatments “that help so-called ‘healthy people’ don’t work for individuals with mental health issues.”
Adrian Thomas, author of the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds’ Guide to Birdsong, said the report makes sense, since people generally report birdsong brings feelings of joy.
“It is embedded somewhere deep within our psyches,” he said. “It is associated with spring and renewal and good times coming…We need to address this nature crisis and ensure that nature doesn’t fall silent.”