The power of the ocean to bring mental health benefits to humans is a growing field of research as scientists increasingly understand the value of the marine realm in human health and well-being.
Being near to or hearing the ocean is recognised as bringing a sense of calm and perspective and a new project aims to give people access to this benefit wherever they are. A ‘digital seashell’ of wave sound is being launched for Mental Health Awareness week (14–20 May), to remind doctors, teachers and mental health professionals of the ocean’s restorative power; and encourage them to include time by, or listening to, the ocean in their list of self-care recommendations.
Organised by the Marine CoLABoration, a group of organisations working to protect the ocean and reconnect people with its importance in all our lives, the ‘Sound Waves’ project builds on a growing body of research into the role of blue space.
The BlueHealth programme led by the University of Exeter, for example, is dedicated to better understanding the link between water and human health and is uncovering the extraordinary role that blue space can play in human well-being.
Dr Lewis Elliott, an environmental psychologist at the University of Exeter said, ‘A large percentage of our population live close to either inland waterways or coastal margins, and research has shown these environments could help us tackle major public health challenges such as physical inactivity and poorer mental health.’
Published research found that both natural and built environments containing water were associated with higher preferences, greater positive affect and higher perceived restorativeness than those without water.
Biologist Wallace J Nichols, the author of Blue Mind says, ‘We are beginning to learn that our brains are hardwired to react positively to water and that being near it can calm and connect us, increase innovation and insight, and even heal what’s broken.’
The playlist is available on OneOcean and Dr Heather Koldewey, Marine CoLABoration member from the Zoological Society of London said, ‘The ocean is essential in all our lives from providing half of the oxygen we breathe to all our drinking water to supporting our emotional and mental well-being. As a marine biologist I feel happiest in and around the ocean and am excited that this playlist enables anyone anywhere to enjoy some of the many benefits the ocean provides.’
Further information about the initiative can be found here.