The Effects of a Forest Therapy Programme on Mental Hospital Patients with Affective and Psychotic Disorders

Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2019 Dec 23;17(1):118. doi: 10.3390/ijerph17010118.


The positive effect of forest bathing on the mental health and wellbeing of those suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder or experiencing stress has been proven. It is not known, however, how 'forest therapy' affects the mental health of people who are treated in a psychiatric hospital for affective or psychotic disorders. Potentially, forest therapy could bring many benefits to these people. To test the potential effectiveness of this therapy, a quasi-experiment was carried out in a psychiatric hospital in Olsztyn (north Poland). In the summer and autumn of 2018, the patients of the psychiatric hospital in Olsztyn participated in forest therapy interventions. The proposed forest therapy consisted of participating in one hour and forty-five minutes walks under the supervision of a therapist. Subjects filled out the Profile of Mood States Questionnaire (POMS) and the State Trait Anxiety Inventory (STAI-S) before and after the study. In the case of a group of patients with affective disorders, forest therapy had a positive effect on nearly all POMS scale subscales, with the exception of the 'anger-hostility' subscale, which did not change its values significantly after the intervention. In these patients, the greatest impacts were noted in the subscales 'confusion' and 'depression-dejection'; the level of anxiety measured with the STAI-S scale also significantly decreased. In the case of patients with psychotic disorders, the values of the 'confusion' and 'vigour' subscales and the STAI-S scale exhibited the greatest changes. These changes were positive for the health of patients. Regarding the 'fatigue' subscale, no significant changes were observed in patients with psychotic disorders. The observed changes in psychological indicators in psychiatric hospital patients with both kinds of disorders indicate that the intervention of forest therapy can positively affect their mental health. The changes observed in psychological indicators were related to the characteristics of the given disorder.

Keywords: Shinrin-yoku; depression; forest bathing; forest therapy; mental disorder; mental hospital inpatients; psychosis.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Anxiety / therapy
  • Depression / therapy
  • Female
  • Forests*
  • Hospitals, Psychiatric
  • Hostility
  • Humans
  • Inpatients
  • Male
  • Mental Health
  • Mentally Ill Persons
  • Middle Aged
  • Poland
  • Psychotic Disorders / therapy*
  • Walking / psychology*