Development of Evidence-Based Rehabilitation Practice in Botanical Garden for People With Mental Health Disorders

HERD. 2021 Oct;14(4):242-257. doi: 10.1177/19375867211007941. Epub 2021 Apr 16.


Aim: This article aims to make clearer, with supporting evidence, the clinical benefits of the nature-based rehabilitation program (NBRP) and the restorative values of visiting botanical garden for people with stress-related mental disorders.

Background: Throughout the years, nature-based therapy has been acknowledged as a valuable rehabilitation practice that integrates specially designed natural environments and nature-related activities for people with mental health conditions.

Subject and methods: The comparative analyses of parallel conducted the NBRP at botanical garden and occupational therapy realised at the Day Hospital of the Institute of Mental Health in Belgrade included 27 participants divided into two groups. The data collection employed a mixed method combining a Clinical Global Impression (CGI) Scale and on-site observations.

Results: The positive findings on the psychological recovery of the participants seem to be related to NBRP. The restorative potential of the garden was recognized through the observed interaction between participants and the natural entities employed through the various themed activities. The observed landscape elements especially solitary plant specimens or tall and single-form trees within the garden can be embraced as design guidelines for the development of an evidence-based practice that can support the recovery process of people with mental health conditions.

Conclusion: Our findings endorse that ongoing social development and progressive urbanization have broadened the interest in scientific research involving nature-based solutions that help preserve the physical and mental health of people in low- and middle-income Western Balkan countries with a high prevalence of mental disorders in the urban environment that relates to social inequalities and natural disasters.

Keywords: biophilia; evidence-based design; mental health; rehabilitation; restorative garden.

MeSH terms

  • Evidence-Based Practice
  • Gardening
  • Humans
  • Mental Disorders*
  • Mental Health*