Puerto Rican children’s mental health after Maria


This video says about itself:

Hurricane Maria video from El Conquistador Hotel in Fajardo, Puerto Rico

Never seen before video (17min) released one year later from the El Conquistador Hotel located high up on the cliff side in Fajardo, Puerto Rico as Hurricane Maria pounds the island with devastating wind gusts! Video copyright Mike Theiss.

From the Medical University of South Carolina in the USA:

Psychologists release results of survey of ‘Maria generation’ kids

April 30, 2019

Psychologists from the Medical University of South Carolina have just published one of the largest post-disaster screening projects in U.S. history. The report, available online through JAMA Network Open, measured the magnitude of Hurricane Maria‘s impact on the mental health of children in Puerto Rico.

Rosaura Orengo-Aguayo, an assistant professor at MUSC in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, grew up in Puerto Rico and led the study. “More than seven percent of youth, 6,900 of the children surveyed by the Puerto Rico Department of Education, reported clinically significant symptoms of PTSD,” she said.

Post-traumatic stress disorder can develop after a traumatic event, such as a natural disaster, affecting their ability to cope with everyday life. PTSD can cause nightmares, flashbacks, the feeling of being always on guard, trouble sleeping and an inability to remember parts of the traumatic event.

Other key findings of the survey, in which more than 96,000 third through 12th graders took part:

  • More than 80% saw houses damaged on an island roughly the size of Connecticut.
  • About 45% had damage to their own home.
  • Almost 58% had a friend or family member leave Puerto Rico.
  • About a third had to deal with a lack of food or water.
  • More than 15% still didn’t have electricity several months after the September 2017 storm.

Orengo-Aguayo said the survey also found that more than 6,000 children reported a family member, friend or neighbor may have died as a result of the storm. “What students reported aligns with an article in the New England Journal of Medicine on mortality rates after Hurricane Maria.” That article, by researchers at the Harvard T.H Chan School of Public Health, estimated there were about 4,600 deaths related to the storm. The government of Puerto Rico puts the death toll at about 3,000 people.

While more than 7% of the children surveyed had PTSD symptoms, that’s actually lower than anticipated. Regan Stewart, an assistant professor in MUSC’s Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, is part of the research team. “I expected it to be higher, based on other studies that have been done in the mainland U.S. in which rates are somewhere between 13 and 30%.”

Why would the PTSD rate be lower among the children surveyed in Puerto Rico than their mainland counterparts surveyed after other disasters? Stewart said one potential protective factor may be a concept called “familismo” in Spanish. “It’s the importance of family and community. Puerto Ricans place a high value on these social connections. We know from the literature that social support may be a protective factor after a traumatic event.”

The PTSD rate might also have to do with the timing of when the Puerto Rico Department of Education conducted the survey, she said. “Most surveys have been done at the six to 12-month mark, given all it takes to get this funded and done. In this case, the department administered the surveys at five to nine months, which is sooner. Many of the students were still dealing with losses of basic necessities-food, electricity. Their focus could still be on getting these basic needs met and mental health difficulties may have developed later at the six to 12-month mark, which was not captured in this survey.”

Orengo-Aguayo, Stewart and another bilingual MUSC mental health expert, Michael de Arellano, have been part of the effort to help schoolchildren in the aftermath of Maria almost from the beginning.

Soon after the storm, a friend in Puerto Rico told Orengo-Aguayo that the education secretary was looking for people who could come up with a comprehensive plan to help teachers and students deal with Maria’s aftermath. Schools were closed, utilities were out and loved ones were leaving.

Orengo-Aguayo and her colleagues at MUSC, along with a psychology intern from Puerto Rico, sprang into action. They realized they could use a grant they already had from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration and the National Child Traumatic Stress Network to fund the work in Puerto Rico.

They’ve worked with the Puerto Rico Department of Education to train teachers in how to take care of their own mental health while also caring for the kids who weathered the storm.

Since their first visit in October of 2017, the MUSC psychologists have been back multiple times to continue their work. They emphasize the importance of asking what people need instead of telling Puerto Ricans what to do. They’ve also worked closely with Joy Lynn Suarez-Kindy, a clinical psychologist who lives there, to strategize and analyze what is needed.

Orengo-Aguayo said the survey shows a few things in addition to data. One, more funding is needed to pay for mental health services in Puerto Rico. Two, the island needs better ways to reach people in rural areas that don’t have mental health providers around. Telehealth, which uses technology to connect patients with experts, is one possibility being explored. Three, all storm-prone areas should try to assess what mental health resources they have before a future disaster occurs, not after.

She also wants to make sure people on the mainland U.S. don’t forget about their fellow citizens in Puerto Rico, including children. “Puerto Rican youth experienced significant disaster exposure and reported trauma symptoms that warrant evidence-based services. Academics partnering with community stakeholders is the way to go to change the world one child at a time. That is our lab’s motto.”

Humpback whales’ songs, new theory


This 2016 video says about itself:

Amazing footage has emerged that captured the sound of a humpback whale and her newborn calf. Humpback whales are known to create complex sounds. It is known as whale song.

From the University at Buffalo in the USA:

Whales use song as sonar, psychologist proposes

Singing whales use echolocation for reproductive purposes

July 30, 2018

Summary: A psychologist has proposed that humpback whales may use song for long-range sonar. It’s the singing whale, not the listening whale who is doing most of the analysis. If correct, the model should change the direction of how we study whales

Any quick internet search for recordings of humpback whale song returns audio compilations that can receive tens of thousands, if not millions, of visits.

With such quantifiable popularity, you might ask, “Who doesn’t love listening to whale song?” One surprising answer might be, “whales”, according to an intriguing model developed by a University at Buffalo researcher.

It’s not that listening whales ignore the singers of their species. The question for Eduardo Mercado III, a professor in UB’s Department of Psychology, is how humpback whales perceive the song, which is among the most sophisticated acoustic performances in the animal kingdom.

Mercado has published a paper in the journal Frontiers in Psychology that hypothesizes whale song helps singers perform a type of auditory scene analysis.

He’s not the first researcher to suggest the idea of humpbacks using sonar, but he’s probably the first to analyze the possibility that songs might be used for sonar.

Mercado’s model proposes that the sender is also the receiver. He says whale song provides useful information to the singing whale, not just listening whales.

“Nearly every biologist is going to say this is nonsense, but I still maintain the direction of the current scientific consensus is wrong”, says Mercado. “Assuming whales hear the songs as beautiful displays like a human might is imposing our perception on theirs.

“What are the whales perceiving?” he asks. “Scientifically, we have to consider that.”

The current assumption has remained for decades that whales sing predominantly for reproductive purposes, using their song as sexual signals that provide a way for females to find high-quality males; for males to attract females; or for males to compete with other males.

That’s the scene for the biologist. In each case, the listening whale would be doing most of the song analysis.

But Mercado says the evidence collected so far provides little support for the sexual advertisement hypothesis.

In his view, the data points more toward it being the singer, not the listener, who is doing most of the analysis through echolocation.

Mercado says humpbacks sing as a way to explore their world.

The goal is still predominantly reproductive, but the song in this case is a like a searchlight that informs singers about the presence of other whales, the direction those whales might be heading and whether or not the singer might be able to catch up to them.

“That’s why they’re singing,” he says. “They’re trying to create a scene that would not be there otherwise. When they create these echoes it’s like shining a searchlight in the dark.”

Mercado began to develop his model by examining the physics of the problem.

To create a simplified version of what would need to happen for echolocation to work he started asking questions: How could this work? What echoes might come back to singers? How strong would they be? Could they be resolved from other sounds? And what information could they provide?

“The model suggests that singers could easily obtain information about the location of other whales”, he says.

That’s just how a physicist responded when Mercado first starting thinking about this problem.

As a graduate student, Mercado accepted a job analyzing whale song. But much of what he heard didn’t make sense. For instance, the library of sound used by whales was changing in different years, demanding whales process new songs every year.

“That’s more difficult than humans trying to annually learn a new language”, says Mercado. “For whales, it isn’t just language, but a whole new range of sounds and new patterns of sounds.”

“For us, it would be like trying to communicate with a new species of humans with different vocal chords that produce a radically different language.”

This apparent learning ability is what interested Mercado, an expert on the effects of learning on brain function, in humpback whale song.

“If my hypothesis is valid it means that whales are doing something much more complicated than what humans can even begin to approach”, he says. “If we understood how whales accomplish this, it could help us understand better how brains work in general.”

Mercado understands why researchers would be skeptical about his model, but he says it’s a testable hypothesis.

“Prove me wrong”, he says. “I don’t have the resources, but there are labs that do.”

If he’s right, Mercado says it should change the direction of how we study whales.

“It’s easy to get locked into believing something that seems obvious. But looks, or in this case, sounds, can be deceiving”, he says. “Right now, whale song is being analyzed in a way that might not be accurate.”

Humpback whales’ songs at subarctic feeding areas are complex, progressive. And resemble tropical winter breeding-associated songs: here.

CIA torture psychologists’ lawsuit


This video says about itself:

Here the rain never finishes: exclusive CIA torture report from the ACLU | Guardian Docs

13 October 2015

Survivors of Central Intelligence Agency torture are sueing the contractor psychologists who designed one of the most infamous programs of the post-9/11 era. Salim, one of the three ex-detainees in the suit, is a Tanzanian fisherman who says that flashbacks from his ordeal in CIA custody are a permanent part of his life.

By Nick Barrickman in the USA:

Lawsuit charges US psychologists involved in CIA torture program with war crimes

15 October 2015

A lawsuit filed on Tuesday in federal court alleges that American psychologists James Mitchell and John “Bruce” Jessen collaborated with the CIA in devising “enhanced interrogation techniques” that were later used by US personnel in Guantanamo Bay, Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan, Abu Ghraib in Iraq and unlisted US black sites. The charges were filed by victims of the US torture program and the ACLU, and declare that the two doctors engaged in a “joint criminal enterprise” with the US government, constituting “torture, cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment; non-consensual human experimentation; and war crimes, all of which violate well-established norms of customary international law.”

The lawsuit was filed by Suleiman Abdullah Salim and Mohamed Ahmed Ben Soud, Tanzanian and Libyan nationals who were subjected to CIA torture methods, as well as by Obaid Ullah, a representative of the family of Gul Rahman, who was killed while under interrogation in 2002. The lawsuit alleges that Mitchell and Jessen “designed, implemented, and personally administered an experimental torture program for the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency” while working with the agency.

Mitchell and Jessen were tapped by representatives of the Bush administration in the wake of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks to devise interrogation methods intended to break the willful resistance of Al Qaeda suspects in US custody. According to the lawsuit, the two CIA collaborators “proposed a pseudoscientific theory of countering resistance” based on 1960s experiments in which doctors subjected animals to “uncontrollable pain” in an effort to instill a state of “learned helplessness” in their victims, the latter eventually submitting passively to the will of their captors. These methods were first carried out on Abu Zabaydah, a suspected Al Qaeda militant captured in March of 2002.

Victims of the program were subjected to “solitary confinement; extreme darkness, cold, and noise; repeated beatings; starvation; excruciatingly painful stress positions; prolonged sleep deprivation; confinement in coffin-like boxes; and water torture” in CIA black sites under the supervision of Mitchell and Jessen, which resulted in “lasting psychological and physical damage,” the lawsuit alleges. The family of Rahman, the latter having died of such abuse, was never notified of his death or given his body so they could perform a burial, the lawsuit notes.

Although the CIA has officially admitted to having waterboarded only three individuals—Abdul al-Rahim al-Nashiri, Abu Zubaydah and Khalid Shaikh Mohammed—the charges detail torture methods and abuse which can essentially be described as the same thing. Ben Soud, held by the CIA in a number of US prison black sites in Afghanistan and Libya from 2003 to 2011, was repeatedly “strapped to a wooden board that could spin around 360 degrees… with a hood over his head covering his nose and mouth. While strapped to the board with his head lower than his feet, his interrogators poured buckets of cold water [over] him” while threatening to drown him.

“You can’t sleep, you can’t eat, you can’t smell,” says Salim of his ordeal, in a video interview published on the ACLU website, adding, “Flashbacks come anytime, so much they make you crazy.”

Jessen and Mitchell’s methods first became public knowledge with the exposure of photographs depicting torture at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq in 2004, controlled by the US military in the wake of the invasion of that country in 2003. At the time, the scandal forced the US government to place a moratorium on the practices, only later continuing them when the American Psychological Association, in consultation with the Bush administration, stepped in to provide the program a veneer of legality so that it could continue unhindered.

During 2005, the two formed Mitchell and Jessen Associates, a company providing “operational psychologists, debriefers, and security personnel at CIA detention sites,” allowing them to draw $81 million from the federal government throughout the life of their contract. While President Barack Obama officially ended the program upon coming to office in 2008 [sic; 2009], the US government continued to pay millions of dollars in legal fees for Mitchell and Jessen until 2012.

Despite the severity of the charges brought forth, the lawsuit only demands payment for legal costs, punitive and exemplary damages of an amount “to be proven” and compensation payments totaling $75,000 each.

“This case is about ensuring that the people behind the torture program are held accountable so history doesn’t repeat itself,” said ACLU attorney Steven Watt of the lawsuit, adding, “Impunity for torture sends the dangerous message to US and foreign officials that there will be no consequences for future abuses.” Such language implies that acting and former members of the Bush and Obama administrations could be held liable for similar charges in the future.

The lawsuit is based largely on findings of the US Senate Select Intelligence Committee’s report on the CIA torture program, released in late 2014, and represents the first and thus far only lawsuit to be brought against collaborators in the US torture program based upon documented government evidence. While initially reacting with outrage to the highly redacted revelations of US criminality, the US political establishment has halted any public discussion of the highly explosive content of the Senate report. Less than a year after its release, no one, including members of the Senate committee itself, is seeking to revisit the subject.

The author also recommends:

The CIA torture report and the crisis of legitimacy in the United States
[08 December 2014]

What is in the Senate Intelligence Committee Report on CIA torture
[16 December 2014]

American Psychological Association played critical role in CIA torture program
[01 May 2015]

United States psychologists’ convention bans participation in torture


This video, recorded in Canada, says about itself:

Anti-Torture Psychologists Celebrate New APA Interrogation Ban

7 August 2015

Steven Reisner and Stephen Soldz, two founders of the Coalition for an Ethical Psychology, speak to Amy Goodman in Toronto moments after the American Psychological Association approved a ban on psychologists from taking part in national security interrogations. See full coverage here.

By Tom Carter in the USA:

US psychologists’ convention bans participation in torture

10 August 2015

On Friday, the American Psychological Association overwhelmingly adopted a resolution banning participation by psychologists in national security interrogations, in the face of accusations that the proposed ban on torture was “anti-government” and “anti-military.”

The resolution states that “psychologists shall not conduct, supervise, be in the presence of, or otherwise assist any national security interrogations for any military or intelligence entities, including private contractors working on their behalf, nor advise on conditions of confinement insofar as these might facilitate such an interrogation.”

The resolution was adopted at a convention in Toronto by a vote of 156 council members to one, with seven abstentions and one recusal. Following the successful vote, participants and a crowd of observers rose for a defiant standing ovation. Some wore T-shirts that read, “First, do no harm,” referring to the fundamental concept in medical ethics.

The American Psychological Association is a scientific and professional organization embracing 122,500 professionals. Full membership in the organization requires a doctoral degree.

According to an APA press release, “The new policy does allow for psychologist involvement in general policy consultation regarding humane interrogations. The prohibition does not apply to domestic law enforcement interrogations or domestic detention settings where detainees are under the protection of the U.S. Constitution.”

The vote follows the release of a 542-page independent report last month implicating the APA in the CIA torture program, which was prepared by a team of lawyers led by former federal prosecutor David Hoffman. The Hoffman report, commissioned by the APA, exposed a conspiracy at the top levels of the APA, in collusion with the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and Department of Defense (DOD), to facilitate the involvement of psychologists in the CIA torture program and later to shield the perpetrators from accountability.

The CIA torture program was the subject of a devastating Senate Intelligence Committee report in December of last year, which shamefully continues to be ignored by the establishment media in the US. The Senate report painted a picture of systematic and shocking brutality, infamously including “rectal feeding” and other practices, with the active oversight of the highest levels of the state. The Senate report found that numerous medical professionals had been accomplices or direct participants in torture, including doctors, nurses and psychologists.

In the period leading up to the APA’s annual conference last week, dissident psychologists opposed to torture were targeted for browbeating and intimidation. Tony Williams, president of the APA’s Society for Military Psychology, characterized the ban on torture that was passed Friday as a “politically motivated, anti-government and anti-military stance.” He went on to criticize the Hoffman report as serving “an effort to advance an unspoken political agenda.”

In the face of such efforts, the nearly unanimous vote is certainly a welcome repudiation of the criminal torture practices of the American government that were implemented as part of the “war on terror.” The vote vindicates the efforts of those dissident psychologists who have campaigned for years against torture.

At the same time, it is certainly an indication of the present crisis of American society that a vote was even necessary at all. Torture has been clearly illegal for decades, under both international and domestic law.

The involvement of medical professionals in torture is unambiguously prohibited by the Nuremberg Code, which resulted from the trials of Nazi doctors in the aftermath of the Second World War. (See The American Psychological Association, torture and the Nuremberg doctors’ trial.) Under the Nuremberg Code, medical professionals require the voluntary informed consent of their patients, and they are required to minimize harm.

The vote Friday paves the way for ethical complaints to be initiated against the psychologists involved in the CIA torture program, the loss of their licenses, and even prosecutions.

While those psychologists who participated in torture should certainly be held accountable, holding them accountable raises the question of all other civilian, military and intelligence officials and personnel who participated in torture. What about the top officials in the Bush and Obama administrations that orchestrated the program, lied about it, and tried to conceal it?

To date, the Obama administration has consistently refused to hold anyone involved in the criminal torture program accountable, invoking the slogan “looking forward, not backward.” The APA vote on Friday is a reminder that war criminals and torturers remain at large, who have yet to be brought to justice.

Retired Army Colonel Larry James cast the one dissenting vote on Friday. James served as Guantanamo’s chief psychologist in 2003 and as the director of the Abu Ghraib “behavioral science unit” in 2004.

At both Guantanamo Bay and Abu Ghraib, according to the Center for Torture Accountability, “James headed teams of ‘mental health’ professionals charged with destroying the mental health of detainees, on the theory that psychologically broken men would provide interrogators with more information.”

James claims that his role was to ensure that the detainees were treated ethically, but the Center indicates that his real function was “to maximize their psychological pain.”

“On his watch, prisoners were threatened with rape and murder, sexually humiliated, left naked in cold cells, chained into uncomfortable ‘stress positions’ for hours on end, and deprived of sleep and human contact, among other psychological regimens,” the Center notes.

In 2008, James became dean of the School of Professional Psychology at Wright State University in Dayton, Ohio. In 2009, he served as president of the American Board of Health Psychology. From 2009 to 2010, he served as president elect of the APA’s Division of Military Psychology.

In 2010, James announced that he had been appointed to a task force headed by Michelle Obama called, “Enhancing the Psychological Well-Being of The Military Family.” In a press release, James emphatically agreed with the Obama administration’s policy of “turning the page” on torture—that is, the policy of zero accountability for torturers and their accomplices.

See also here.

CIA made doctors torture


This video about the USA says about itself:

CIA Torture Dr. Gets Contract

15 Oct 2010

The government keeps rewarding contracts to private security firms like Blackwater, despite the murder, fraud, drugs, and prostitutes, as if there’s no one else available to do the job. And today famed psychologist Martin Seligman, whose theory in many ways was the inspiration for the CIA’s interrogation program during Bush. But it turns out earlier this year the Army awarded a contract to the University of Pennsylvania where Dr. Seligman works. Mark Benjamin investigative reporter with Salon.com explains the bases of the CIA’s torture process that was inspired by Seligman.

From daily The Guardian in Britain:

CIA made doctors torture suspected terrorists after 9/11, taskforce finds

Doctors were asked to torture detainees for intelligence gathering, and unethical practices continue, review concludes

Sarah Boseley, health editor

Monday 4 November 2013

Doctors and psychologists working for the US military violated the ethical codes of their profession under instruction from the defence department and the CIA to become involved in the torture and degrading treatment of suspected terrorists, an investigation has concluded.

The report of the Taskforce on Preserving Medical Professionalism in National Security Detention Centres concludes that after 9/11, health professionals working with the military and intelligence services “designed and participated in cruel, inhumane and degrading treatment and torture of detainees“.

Medical professionals were in effect told that their ethical mantra “first do no harm” did not apply, because they were not treating people who were ill.

The report lays blame primarily on the defence department (DoD) and the CIA, which required their healthcare staff to put aside any scruples in the interests of intelligence gathering and security practices that caused severe harm to detainees, from waterboarding to sleep deprivation and force-feeding.

The two-year review by the 19-member taskforce, Ethics Abandoned: Medical Professionalism and Detainee Abuse in the War on Terror, supported by the Institute on Medicine as a Profession (IMAP) and the Open Society Foundations, says that the DoD termed those involved in interrogation “safety officers” rather than doctors. Doctors and nurses were required to participate in the force-feeding of prisoners on hunger strike, against the rules of the World Medical Association and the American Medical Association. Doctors and psychologists working for the DoD were required to breach patient confidentiality and share what they knew of the prisoner’s physical and psychological condition with interrogators and were used as interrogators themselves. They also failed to comply with recommendations from the army surgeon general on reporting abuse of detainees.

The CIA’s office of medical services played a critical role in advising the justice department that “enhanced interrogation” methods, such as extended sleep deprivation and waterboarding, which are recognised as forms of torture, were medically acceptable. CIA medical personnel were present when waterboarding was taking place, the taskforce says.

Although the DoD has taken steps to address concerns over practices at Guantánamo Bay in recent years, and the CIA has said it no longer has suspects in detention, the taskforce says that these “changed roles for health professionals and anaemic ethical standards” remain.

“The American public has a right to know that the covenant with its physicians to follow professional ethical expectations is firm regardless of where they serve,” said Dr Gerald Thomson, professor of medicine emeritus at Columbia University and member of the taskforce.

He added: “It’s clear that in the name of national security the military trumped that covenant, and physicians were transformed into agents of the military and performed acts that were contrary to medical ethics and practice. We have a responsibility to make sure this never happens again.” The taskforce says that unethical practices by medical personnel, required by the military, continue today. The DoD “continues to follow policies that undermine standards of professional conduct” for interrogation, hunger strikes, and reporting abuse. Protocols have been issued requiring doctors and nurses to participate in the force-feeding of detainees, including forced extensive bodily restraints for up to two hours twice a day.

Doctors are still required to give interrogators access to medical and psychological information about detainees which they can use to exert pressure on them. Detainees are not permitted to receive treatment for the distress caused by their torture.

“Putting on a uniform does not and should not abrogate the fundamental principles of medical professionalism,” said IMAP president David Rothman. “‘Do no harm’ and ‘put patient interest first’ must apply to all physicians regardless of where they practise.” The taskforce wants a full investigation into the involvement of the medical profession in detention centres. It is also calling for publication of the Senate intelligence committee’s inquiry into CIA practices and wants rules to ensure doctors and psychiatrists working for the military are allowed to abide by the ethical obligations of their profession; they should be prohibited from taking part in interrogation, sharing information from detainees’ medical records with interrogators, or participating in force-feeding, and they should be required to report abuse of detainees.

Since September 11, 2001 medical professionals under the direction of the CIA and the US Department of Defense were ordered to disregard the core “do no harm” principles of medical ethics in their dealings with detainees held by the US in the so-called “war on terror.” Health professionals were required to engage in practices which included “designing, participating in, and enabling cruel, inhumane and degrading treatment” of prisoners: here.

DOCTORS WERE INSTRUCTED TO INFLICT SEVERE HARM ON GUANTANAMO BAY DETAINEES: here.

Exposed: American Doctors and Psychologists Engaged in Frightening Torture Programs Since 9/11: here.

A 542-page independent report made public by the New York Times on Friday implicates the American Psychological Association (APA) in the CIA torture program. The devastating report, prepared by a team of attorneys led by former federal prosecutor David Hoffman, not only exposes the involvement of psychologists in torture, but also lifts the curtain on years of lies, conspiracies, and cover-ups reaching to the top of the APA and academia: here.

Wildlife photos, good for health


This video, recorded in Australia, is called Bird sounds from the lyrebird – David Attenborough – BBC wildlife.

The sources which I quote here mention only photographs, not videos. But maybe this video is good for mental health as well?

Translated from Dutch regional TV RTV Noord:

‘Photo of nature works miracles for health’

Posted: 22:09 pm, Wednesday, November 7, 2012

A good mood, better concentration, and less stress – nature can work wonders for our health. But we even we do not have to go outside for that. According to research by future Professor Agnes van den Berg.

According to Van den Berg, just people looking at nature through a window or seeing an image already has a positive effect on health. …

Van den Berg this Tuesday will have her inaugural lecture at the University of Groningen.

From the University of Groningen site:

Agnes van den Berg professor of Experiencing and Valuing Nature and Landscape

Date: January 11, 2012

On 1 January 2012, Dr A.E. van den Berg became professor by special appointment in Experiencing and Valuing Nature and Landscape at the Faculty of Spatial Sciences (FRW) of the University of Groningen. The founding of a chair in Experiencing and Valuing Nature and Landscape comes at a time when there is wide general concern about the violation of nature and landscape values. With Van den Berg as the holder of the chair, the Netherlands has gained an active advocate for more academic research into the consequences of these developments for the health and wellbeing of people.

Agnes van den Berg (Apeldoorn, 1967) studied experimental psychology at the University of Groningen and gained a PhD in 1999 from the same university with research on how nature development areas are experienced. In 1997 she moved to Wageningen to work as an environmental psychologist at the Alterra knowledge institute.

With the publication of the essay ‘Van buiten word je beter’ [Fresh air makes you healthy] in 2001, she moved the importance of nature for the health of the public high up the social and scientific agenda. Since 2003, Van den Berg has been combining her applied research at Alterra with an academic appointment at Wageningen University. Within the NWO project ‘Vitamin G’ (where G stands for green), she is working on the scientific basis of the relationship between green in the living environment and health.

She also plays an active role in the translation of academic knowledge of the experience of nature and health into practical advice and guidelines. She regularly gives presentations and interviews on themes including the importance of nature for the development of children, the contribution paid by gardening to healthy ageing, and designing with how it will be experienced in mind.

Van den Berg’s research and Rottum island: here.