Why It Works

Benefit of Woodland and Other Natural Environments for Adolescents’ Cognition and Mental Health

This is the largest epidemiological study to report on the impact of natural-environment-type
exposure on cognitive development, mental health and overall well-being during adolescence. The
researchers observed that woodland exposure was associated with a beneficial contribution to
cognitive development and a lower risk of emotional and behavioral difficulties during adolescence.

Source: Maes, M.J.A., Pirani, M., Booth, E.R. et al. Benefit of woodland and other natural environments for adolescents’ cognition and mental health. Nat Sustain (2021).

A Systematic Review of the Efficacy of Equine Assisted Interventions on Psychological Outcomes

Three studies examined the benefits of an equine intervention for youth identified as being ‘at-risk’. Burgon (2011) used qualitative interviews to examine the experience of a therapeutic horsemanship program among a sample of at-risk adolescents.

Source: Elizabeth Kendall, Annick Maujean, Christopher A. Pepping, Martin Downes, Ali Lakhani, Jason Byrne & Kym Macfarlane (2015) A systematic review of the efficacy of equine assisted interventions on psychological outcomes, European Journal of Psychotherapy & Counseling, 17:1, 57-79, DOI

Mental Health Benefits of Interactions with Nature in Children and Teenagers – A Review

This study critically examines current literature focusing on how nature influences children’s and teenagers’ mental health.

Source: Tillmann S, Tobin D, Avison W, et al. J Epidemiol Community Health 2018; 72:958– 966. DOI

Mental Health Benefits of Nature-Based Recreation – A Systematic Review

The findings indicate the strong potential for nature-based recreation to positively affect mental health outcomes, such as wellbeing, cognition, resilience, and restoration as well as decrease levels of anxiety, depression, and stress.

Source: N. Qwynne Lackey, Deborah A. Tysor, G. David McNay, Leah Joyner, Kensey H. Baker & Camilla Hodge (2019): Mental health benefits of nature-based recreation: a systematic review, Annals of Leisure Research, DOI

The Benefits of Equine-Assisted Activities – An exploratory study

Evidence presented here indicates that it is possible to integrate control objects into animal interaction investigations, and that these interventions may yield positive results without employing qualified therapies. 

Source: Holmes, C.M.P., Goodwin, D., Redhead, E.S. et al. The Benefits of Equine-Assisted Activities: An Exploratory Study. Child Adolesc Soc Work J 29, 111–122 (2012). 

The State of Animal-Assisted Interventions: Addressing the Contemporary Issues That Will Shape the Future

The findings indicate the strong potential for nature-based recreation to positively affect mental health outcomes, such as wellbeing, cognition, resilience, and restoration as well as decrease levels of anxiety, depression, and stress. 

Source: Fine AH, Beck AM, Ng Z. The State of Animal-Assisted Interventions: Addressing the
Contemporary Issues That Will Shape the Future. International Journal of Environmental
Research and Public Health. 2019; 16(20):3997.

How Equine-Assisted Activities Affect the Prosocial Behavior of Adolescents

We strongly believe that the relationship humans build with horses shows them a way to build trust, acceptance, and understanding toward humans, as well. Our results suggest that young people who learn to listen to and take care of the horse can transfer this knowledge to intra-species communication and behavior, as well. 

Source: Pelyva IZ, Kresák R, Szovák E, Tóth ÁL. How Equine-Assisted Activities Affect the Prosocial Behavior of Adolescents. Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2020 Apr 24;17(8):2967. doi

Mental Health-Related Emergency Department Visits Among Children Aged <18 Years During the COVID-19 Pandemic-United States, January 1-October 17, 2020

Adolescents aged 12–17 years accounted for the largest proportion of children’s mental health–related emergency department (ED) visits during 2019 and 2020. ED visits for persons of all ages declined during the early COVID-19 pandemic which was between March – April 2020. During weeks 12–42, 2020, the proportion of mental health–related visits for children 4 aged 5–11 years and adolescents aged 12–17 years increased approximately 24% and 31%, respectively compared with those in 2019. 

Source: Leeb RT, Bitsko RH, Radhakrishnan L, Martinez P, Njai R, Holland KM. Mental Health–Related Emergency Department Visits Among Children Aged <18 Years During the COVID-19 Pandemic — United States, January 1–October 17, 2020. MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep 2020;69:1675–1680. DOI

The Potential of Human-Horse Attachment in Creating Favorable Settings for Professional Care: A Study of Adolescents’ Visit to a Farm

The results suggest that the presence of horses may activate the development of attachment in adolescents in the same way people do. The four criteria of an attachment bond— proximity maintenance, safe haven, secure base, and separation distress—may be fulfilled in the interaction between a human and a horse. 

Source: Törmälehto E, Korkiamäki R. The Potential of Human–Horse Attachment in Creating Favorable Settings for Professional Care: A Study of Adolescents’ Visit to a Farm. Animals. 2020; 10(9):1707

Suicide Replaces Homicide as Second-Leading Cause of Death Among U.S. Teenagers

Suicides have become the second-leading cause of death among teenagers in the United States, surpassing homicide deaths, which dropped to third on the list. The teenage suicide rate increased from 8 deaths per 100,000 in 1999 to 8.7 deaths per 100,000 in 2014. 

Source: National Center for Health Statistics. CDC WONDER. Underlying cause of death, 1999–2017. 2018.