Home gardens moderate the relationship between Covid-19-induced stay-at-home orders and mental distress: a case study with urban residents of India

In Environmental Research Communications
Peer-reviewed Article

With the increasing spread of the Covid-19 pandemic, restrictions on public life were strengthened across the world. Non-pharmaceutical interventions like stay-at-home orders, cancellations of events, work from home, etc. are the first line of defense to combat the spread of highly transmittable infections like Covid-19. But these interventions create whole new situations that urban residents need to cope with, which often creates mental distress. Home gardens, due to their therapeutic benefits, can help individuals to relax and unwind, thus reduce mental distress. The present study attempts to investigate whether home gardens moderate the effects on mental distress from confinement at homes due to the enforcement of stay-at-home orders. Samples (N = 408) were collected through an online question survey with urban residents across different parts of India. Moderation analysis reported the significant effect of home gardens in lowering mental distress. Further analysis with time spent in home gardens revealed that with increasing time spent from less than 10 min to more than 2 h, an individual score of stress and anxiety, and overall Depression, Anxiety and Stress Scale (DASS)-21 scores had significantly decreased. These findings illustrate the beneficial properties of nature-based solutions, home gardens in this case, in improving mental health, even during the difficult times of the Covid-19 pandemic. Our results suggest the necessity of scaling up these nature-based solutions in urban planning processes to make the residents healthy and resilient.