The Disconnect Between People and Nature: A Cause for Concern

The Disconnect Between People and Nature: A Cause for Concern

The disconnect between people and the natural world has grown significantly. This increasing gap raises serious concerns, impacting both mental health and the environment. As urbanization continues to surge and technology becomes more pervasive, our interactions with nature diminish, leading to consequences that require attention.

The Growing Gap

Modern lifestyles have led to a significant decrease in our connection with nature. According to the United Nations, more than 55% of the world’s population currently resides in urban areas, which is projected to rise to 68% by 2050. Urban environments, characterized by concrete landscapes and limited green spaces, often restrict opportunities for natural experiences. Simultaneously, digital technology has transformed daily life, leading people further away from outdoor activities. Children spend less time outside, with a study by the Kaiser Family Foundation revealing that American children aged 8-18 spend an average of over seven hours a day on electronic media.

The migration from suburban and rural areas to urban centers, driven by economic opportunities and modern conveniences, has contributed to this phenomenon. Urban planning often prioritizes infrastructure and development over green spaces, resulting in cities that are rich in amenities but poor in natural environments. The availability of parks, gardens, and natural reserves is crucial. However, even when present, these spaces are often underutilized due to the allure of digital entertainment and busy urban lifestyles.

Time in nature can lower stress, reduce symptoms of depression, and improve overall well-being

Consequences for Mental Health

The innate connection between people and nature has been well-documented. Not having access to natural environments can hurt mental health. A study published in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives suggests that spending time in nature can lower stress, reduce symptoms of depression, and improve overall well-being. On the other hand, not interacting with nature can worsen mental health issues. A 2020 study found that people living in cities with little access to green spaces are 40% more likely to develop mood disorders than those with better access to nature.

Moreover, the therapeutic benefits of nature are not limited to mental health. Physical health is also affected, as time spent outdoors can enhance physical activity levels, reduce the risk of chronic diseases, and boost immune function. The concept of ‘biophilia,’ introduced by biologist E.O. Wilson, emphasizes humans’ inherent affinity for nature, suggesting that this connection is essential for overall well-being. The absence of natural interactions can lead to a condition known as ‘nature-deficit disorder,’ a term coined by Richard Louv. This term encompasses a range of behavioral problems and developmental issues in children and adults, highlighting the urgent need to reconnect with nature.

Environmental Apathy

Beyond personal health, the disconnect from nature fosters environmental apathy. When people are detached from natural settings, their understanding and concern for environmental issues diminish. This apathy can hinder conservation efforts and exacerbate environmental degradation. For example, a survey by the Nature Conservancy found that only 56% of Americans express significant concern about climate change, and many feel disconnected from the impacts of environmental issues on their daily lives. This detachment is evident in various ways, such as low participation in environmental initiatives, lack of interest in sustainable practices, and a general disregard for the impact of human activities on the environment. This complicates efforts to mobilize the collective action needed to address pressing environmental challenges.

Environmental education plays a pivotal role in bridging this gap. When people, particularly young people, are exposed to nature and educated about environmental issues, they are more likely to develop a sense of stewardship and responsibility towards the planet. Community-based programs, such as local clean-up initiatives and conservation projects, can foster a stronger environmental connection and promote sustainable behaviors.


Bridging the Gap

The good news is that we can reverse this trend. Even small doses of outdoor activities, such as walks in local parks, can positively impact people’s well-being. It is crucial to reintroduce nature education in schools and promote initiatives that connect people with the environment. By nurturing a love for the natural world, we can raise a generation of environmental stewards and enhance our collective well-being.

Innovative urban planning that incorporates green spaces into cityscapes, community gardens, and rooftop farms can also make a significant difference. Additionally, using technology to encourage nature experiences, like virtual reality nature tours and nature-based mobile apps, can help bridge the gap for those with limited access to natural environments.



The disconnect between people and nature is a pressing concern with far-reaching implications. Our relationship with the natural world is intricately linked to people’s mental health and our planet’s overall health. By recognizing and addressing this divide, society can work towards fostering a healthier, more environmentally conscious future. Reintegrating nature into our daily lives is essential for our well-being and the preservation of our planet for future generations.


Voiijer is a social-led media platform that inspires, educates, and motivates people to get outside and experience nature. The platform offers multimedia storytelling tools, the ability to collaborate with friends and colleagues, and a community of nature enthusiasts designed to engage users of all ages. By making nature accessible and exciting, Voiijer supports individuals in reconnecting with nature, whether they are seasoned explorers or beginners who are curious. You can sign up for access to their platform here.



  • United Nations. (2018). World Urbanization Prospects: The 2018 Revision. Retrieved from UN Report
  • Kaiser Family Foundation. (2010). Generation M2: Media in the Lives of 8- to 18-Year-Olds. Retrieved from KFF Report
  • Environmental Health Perspectives. (2019). Nature and Mental Health: An Ecosystem Perspective. Retrieved from Science Advances
  • Bratman, G. N., Hamilton, J. P., & Daily, G. C. (2012). The Impacts of Nature Experience on Human Cognitive Function and Mental Health. Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences. Retrieved from NYAS Journal
  • Nature of Americans. (2017). The Nature of Americans National Report: Disconnection and the Consequences. Retrieved from Nature of Americans Report