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Constituents of Well-being

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Mental Health

Mental health describes a level of psychological well-being. It is related to possessing a 'sense of self' within a social context. It includes spiritual well-being and retaining a sense of vitality, feeling well and happy.


Millennium Ecosystem Assessment Well-being Category



How do ecosystem services contribute to this constituent of well-being?


Good mental health is a vital part of overall good health and wellbeing.

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Exposure to excessive noise has been shown to cause hearing problems and psychological and physiological stress including poor concentration, productivity losses in the workplace, communication difficulties, fatigue from lack of sleep and a loss of psychological well-being (Kyter 1994). Noise is an indicator of human health risks and built environment quality. Noise pollution abatement is important to reducing these risks. 

The ability to express oneself through inspiration derived from ecosystems, seascapes and landscapes is important to maintaining psychological 'space'.

A landscape can be therapeutic or harmful depending on its content. Documented therapeutic benefits of natural landscapes include those to physiological stress, sensitivity to stress, surgical recovery time, opportunities for green exercise, mental fatigue, cognitive functioning, attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, mood, self-discipline and opportunities for reflection. An example of the importance of therepeutic landscapes; a study of 250,000 people in Holland showed that levels of general physical health rose strongly with the amount of green space in the kilometre surrounding their home. This effect remained after controlling for the degree of urbanisation, and various social and economic variables. Another example: patients in a Pennsylvania hospital whose rooms overlooked trees recovered from surgery quicker and needed less medication than patients whose rooms overlooked a brick wall. Patients were randomly assigned to rooms, so the only difference was in the window view.

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Table 1:The relative magnitude (to other ecosystem services) each ecosystem service contributes to Mental Health.

Ecosystem Service Category Ecosystem Service 0
Provisioning Services
Food products            
Water for Consumption            
Building and Fibre Resources            
Fuel Resources            
Genetic Resources for Cultivated Products            
Biochemical, medicinal and pharmaceutical resources            
Ornamental Resources            
Transport Infrastructure            
Regulating Services
Air Quality            
Habitable Climate            
Water Quality            
Arable Land            
Buffering Against Extremes            
Reduce Pests and Diseases            
Productive Soils            
Noise Abatement            
Cultural Services
Iconic Species            
Cultural Diversity            
Spiritual and Religious Values            
Knowledge Systems            
Aesthetic Values            
Effect on Social Interactions            
Sense of Place            
Iconic Landscapes            
Recreational Opportunities            
Therapeutic Landscapes