We launched the Center for Children and Nature and Health (CNH), a program of UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital, with the clear understanding that more needs to be done to understand how public health and health care systems can use nature in healing.
Why Nature and Health?
The facts are clear. According to the Centers for Disease Control, the impact of chronic health conditions such as heart disease and type 2 diabetes is staggering. Mental health illnesses such as pediatric depression, anxiety, loneliness and feelings of isolation, all of which are related to poor health outcomes, are at an all-time high. Many of these conditions are preventable. All are costly. The incidence of chronic disease is higher among low-income children, children of color, and those with disabilities. Yet due to the high costs of care and uneven access, as a society we are experiencing a broad equity gap related to health outcomes.
Exposure to nature is a low-cost, readily available resource for combating many of the conditions which contribute to chronic illness health inequity and high healthcare costs. However, there is a gap in evidence guiding the implementation of integrating nature into clinical and public health practice.
CNH addresses these gaps through groundbreaking research about the health applications of nature in childhood development, for therapy, and prevention. By operating at the intersection of the disciplines of medical research, clinical services, community health and conservation we are uniquely situated to support the academic exchange necessary to create meaningful public health practice. We promote diversity and equity in the fullness of their definitions in the research questions we choose, in our staff and in the populations we serve. We also believe partnerships between providers, researchers, public health professionals, policy makers, the nature movement, and environmental justice advocates have tremendous potential to positively impact our public health now. Forging these powerful partnerships will make the difference in the lives of people. All people.