mental wellness initiative Evidence

Below is an initial sampling of research supporting evidence for mental wellness approaches. From nutrition to yoga and sleep - simple wellness practices have been shown to make an impact on mental health.  Be sure to check back soon as this list is continuing to grow as the Mental Wellness Initiative develops. 













  • R. Khamsi. Metabolism in Mind: New Insights into the "Gut–Brain Axis" Spur Commercial Efforts to Target It. Nature Medicine 22, 697–700 (2016) doi:10.1038/nm0716-697 
  •  P. Smith. The tantalizing links between gut microbes and the brain. Nature 526, 312–314 (15 October 2015) doi:10.1038/526312a
  • J. F. Cryan & S. M. O’Mahony. The microbiome-gut-brain axis: from bowel to behaviour. Neurogastroenterol Motil (2011) 23, 187–192. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2982.2010.01664.x
  • Gut bacteria linked to development of Alzheimer’s disease: Mouse data. Nathan Gray, 13-Feb-2017.
  • T. Harach, N. Marungruang, N. Duthilleul, V. Cheatham, K. D. Mc Coy, G. Frisoni, J. J. Neher, F. Fåk, M. Jucker, T. Lasser & T. Bolmont. 2017. Reduction of Abeta amyloid pathology in APPPS1 transgenic mice in the absence of gut microbiota. Scientific Reports | 7:41802 | DOI: 10.1038/srep41802
  • Sherwin E, Dinan TG, Cryan JF. Recent developments in understanding the role of the gut microbiota in brain health and disease. Ann N Y Acad Sci. 2017 Aug 2. doi: 10.1111/nyas.13416. 
  • Alan E. Hoban, Roman M. Stilling, Gerard M. Moloney, Rachel D. Moloney, Fergus Shanahan, Timothy G. Dinan, John F. Cryan and Gerard Clarke. Microbial regulation of microRNA expression in the amygdala and prefrontal cortex. Microbiome (2017) 5:102 DOI 10.1186/s40168-017-0321-3
  • Lisa M. Christian, Jeffrey D. Galley, Erinn M. Hade, Sarah Schoppe-Sullivan, Claire Kamp Dush, Michael T. Bailey. Gut microbiome composition is associated with temperament during early childhood. Brain, Behavior, and Immunity, 2015; 45: 118 DOI: 10.1016/j.bbi.2014.10.018
  • Kang, Dae-Wook, James B. Adams, Ann C. Gregory, Thomas Borody, Lauren Chittick, Alessio Fasano, Alexander Khoruts, et al. 2017. “Microbiota Transfer Therapy Alters Gut Ecosystem and Improves Gastrointestinal and Autism Symptoms: An Open-Label Study.” Microbiome 5 (1): 10.
  • Kirsten Tillisch, Emeran Mayer, Arpana Gupta, Zafar Gill, Rémi Brazeilles, Boris Le Nevé, Johan E.T. van Hylckama Vlieg, Denis Guyonnet, Muriel Derrien, Jennifer S. Labus. Brain structure and response to emotional stimuli as related to gut microbial profiles in healthy women. Psychosomatic Medicine, 2017; 1 DOI: 10.1097/PSY.0000000000000493
  • New light on link between gut bacteria and anxiety - BioMed Central
  • Galland Leo, The Gut Microbiome and the Brain. Journal of Medicinal Food. December 2014, Vol. 17, No. 12: 1261-127








CROHN’S DISEASE (more on microbiota and candida):




Food additive alters gut bacteria to cause colorectal cancer:














  • Bräuninger, I. (2012). The efficacy of dance movement therapy group on improvement of quality of life: A randomized controlled trial. In: Arts in Psychotherapy, Vol. 39 Issue 5.
  • Bräuninger, I. 2014. Body, Movement and Dance in Psychotherapy, Vol. 9, No. 3, 138–153,
  • Brown S, Martinez MJ & Parsons LM. 2006. The neural basis of human dance. Cereb. Cortex. 16: 1157–1167.
  • Brown S, Parsons LM. 2008 . The neuroscience of dance. Scientific American, July. 78-83.
  • Burzynska AZ, Jiao Y, Knecht AM, Fanning J, Awick EA, Chen T, Gothe N, Voss MW, McAuley E and Kramer AF (2017). White Matter Integrity Declined Over 6-Months, but Dance Intervention Improved Integrity of the Fornix of Older Adults. Front. Aging Neurosci. 9:59. doi: 10.3389/fnagi.2017.00059
  • Edwards S. 2016. Dancing and the Brain. In: On The Brain, The Harvard Mahoney Neuroscience Institute Newsletter.
  • Fasullo, L., Lurquin, J. and Bodeker, G. (2017), ‘Reconnecting to the feminine: Transformative effects of Sensual Movement and Dance’, Dance, Movement & Spiritualities, 3: 1+2, pp. 69–88, doi: 10.1386/dmas.3.1-2.69_1
  • Jeong, Y.J., Hong, S.C., Lee, M.S., Park, M.C., Kim, Y.K., Suh, C.M. (2005). Dance movement therapy improves emotional responses and modulates neurohormones in adolescents with mild depression. International Journal of Neuroscience, Vol. 115 (12).
  • Karpati FJ, Giacosa C, Foster NE, Penhune VB, HydeKL. 2015. Dance and the brain: a review. Ann. N.Y. Acad. Sci. 1337. 140–146
  • Mills LJ, Daniluk JC. 2002. Her body speaks: The experience of dance therapy for women survivors of child sexual abuse. Journal of Counseling and Development : JCD80.1: 77-85.
  • Verghese J, Lipton RB, M.D., Katz MJ, Hall CB, Derby CA, Kuslansky G, Ambrose AF, Sliwinski M, Buschke H. Leisure Activities and the Risk of Dementia in the Elderly. N Engl J Med. 348;25, 2508-2516.
  • Westheimer O,  McRae C, Henchcliffe C, Fesharaki A, Sofya Glazman S,  Ene H, Bodis-Wollner I. 2015. Dance for PD: a preliminary investigation of effects on motor function and quality of life among persons with Parkinson’s disease (PD). J Neural
  • Kathrin Rehfeld, Patrick Müller, Norman Aye, Marlen Schmicker, Milos Dordevic, Jörn Kaufmann, Anita Hökelmann, Notger G. Müller. Dancing or Fitness Sport? The Effects of Two Training Programs on Hippocampal Plasticity and Balance Abilities in Healthy Seniors. Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, 2017; 11 DOI: 10.3389/fnhum.2017.00305






  • James L Oschman, Gaétan Chevalier, and  Richard Brown. The effects of grounding (earthing) on inflammation, the immune response, wound healing, and prevention and treatment of chronic inflammatory and autoimmune diseases. J Inflamm Res. 2015; 8: 83–96.
  • Gaétan Chevalier, Stephen T. Sinatra, James L. Oschman, Karol Sokal, and  Pawel Sokal. Earthing: Health Implications of Reconnecting the Human Body to the Earth's Surface Electrons. J Environ Public Health. 2012; 2012: 291541..
  • Alvarsson, J. J., Wiens, S., & Nilsson, M. (2010). Stress recovery during exposure to nature sound and environmental noise. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 7(3), 1036-1046.
  • Behrens, E., Santa, J., & Gass, M. (2010). The evidence base for private therapeutic schools, residential programs, and wilderness therapy programs. Journal of Therapeutic Schools and Programs, IV(1), 106–117.
  • Chalquist, C. (2009). A look at the ecotherapy research evidence. Ecopsychology, 1(2), 64-74.
  • Clay, R. A. (2001). Green is good for you. Monitor on Psychology, 32(4). Retrieved from
  • Gass, M. A., Gillis, H. L., & Russell, K. C. (2012). Adventure therapy: Theory, practice, & research. NY: Routledge Press.
  • Hoag, M. J., Savicki, K., & Burlingame, G. M. (2001). The Efficacy of wilderness therapy: Individual and familial aspects of change. In American Psychological Association Convention. San Francisco, California.
  • Lewis, S. (2007). The outdoor division of Aspen Education Group: Examining treatment effectiveness. Retrieved from  
  • Magle-Haberek, N. A., Tucker, A. R., & Gass, M. A. (2012). Effects of program differences with wilderness therapy and residential treatment center (RTC) programs. Residential Treatment For Children & Youth, 29(3), 202–218. doi:10.1080/0886571X.2012.697433
  • MIND. (2007). Ecotherapy: The green agenda for mental health. Retrieved from
  • NATSAP. (n.d.). NATSAP Research and Evaluation Network. Retrieved July 30, 2013, from http://
  • OBHRC. (2010). Outdoor Behavioral Healthcare Research Cooperative. Retrieved July 30, 2013, from
  • Outcome Tools. (2012). Outcome Tools. Retrieved March 18, 2013, from site/
  • Russell, K. C. (2003). An assessment of outcomes in outdoor behavioral healthcare treatment. Child and Youth Care Forum, 32(6), 355–381.
  • Russell, K. C. (2007). Summary of research in the Outdoor Behavioral Healthcare Research Cooperative from 1999-2006. Minneapolis, MN.
  • Russell, Keith, C. (2003). A nation-wide survey of outdoor behavioral healthcare programs for adolescents with problem behaviors. Journal of Experiential Education, 25(3), 322–331.
  • Russell, Keith, C. (2005). Two years later: A qualitative assessment of youth well-being and the role of aftercare in outdoor behavioral healthcare treatment. Child and Youth Care Forum, 34(3), 209–239. doi:10.1007/s10566-005-3470-7
  • Scott, D. A., & Duerson, L. M. (2009). Continuing the discussion: A commentary on “Wilderness Therapy: Ethical considerations for mental health professionals.” Child & Youth Care Forum, 39(1), 63–68. doi:10.1007/s10566-009-9090-x
  • Scull, J. (2009). Tailoring nature therapy to the client. In L. Buzzell & C. Chalquist's (Eds.), Ecotherapy: Healing with nature in mind(pp. 140-148). San Francisco, CA: Sierra Club Books.
  • Tucker, A. R., Zelov, R., & Young, M. (2011). Four years along: Emerging traits of programs in the NATSAP Practice Research Network ( PRN ). Journal of Therapeutic Schools and Programs, 10–28.
  • Daniel T. C. Cox, Danielle F. Shanahan, Hannah L. Hudson, Richard A. Fuller, Karen Anderson, Steven Hancock  and Kevin J. Gaston. 2017. Doses of Nearby Nature Simultaneously Associated with Multiple Health Benefits. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health. 14, 172.





  • F. Kwiatkowski, M.A. Mouret-Reynier, M. Duclos, A. Leger-Enreille, F. Bridon, T. Hahn, I. Van Praagh-Doreau, A. Travade, M. Gironde, O. Bézy, J. Lecadet, M.P. Vasson, S. Jouvency, S. Cardinaud, C.F. Roques, Y.-J. Bignon. 2013. Long term improved quality of life by a 2-week group physical and educational intervention shortly after breast cancer chemotherapy completion. Results of the ‘Programme of Accompanying women after breast Cancer treatment completion in Thermal resorts’ (PACThe) randomised clinical trial of 251 patients.  European Journal of Cancer, Volume 49, Issue 7, Pages 1530–1538,  DOI:
  • Mills Paul J., Wilson Kathleen L., Pung Meredith A., Weiss Lizabeth, Patel Sheila, Doraiswamy P. Murali, Peterson Christine Tara, Porter Valencia, Schadt Eric, Chopra Deepak, and Tanzi Rudolph E.. The Self-Directed Biological Transformation Initiative and Well-Being. The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine. August 2016, 22(8): 627-634. doi:10.1089/acm.2016.0002.








“Mental wellbeing includes the capacity to make health and happiness enhancing relationships with others. People with mental wellbeing know themselves and their needs, have clear boundaries, relate to others using the skills of emotional literacy and accept and manage conflict without manipulation or coercion.

People with mental wellbeing are also generous, wise and compassionate. They make good decisions on behalf of others. It therefore follows that promoting the mental wellbeing of all, particularly of those who are in positions of power, is an important approach to preventing social inequality and unhealthy policy.

Social wellbeing is:

  • the basis for social equality, social capital, social trust
  • the antidote to racism, stigma, violence and crime.

It depends on:

  • the sum of individual mental wellbeing in a group, community or society
  • the quality of government – local, organizational, national and international
  • the quality of services and provision of support for those in need
  • the fair distribution of resources including income
  • the norm with regard to interpersonal relationships in a group, community or society, including respect for others and their needs, compassion and empathy, and authentic interaction.           

Hierarchically held power in families, communities, workplaces, schools or government is particularly potent in this regard, and respectful, compassionate, authentic government, families and organisations are important in the creation of collective mental wellbeing”.

WHO Commission on Social Determinants of Health: Closing the gap in a generation: health equity through action on the social determinants of health.

The Social Cure: Identity, Health and Well-Being. A growing body of research shows that social networks and identities have a profound impact on mental and physical health. Social identities, and factors associated with them (such as social support and a sense of community), can bolster individuals' sense of self and contribute to physical and mental health. Social identities constitute a “social cure”, capable of promoting adjustment, coping, and well-being for individuals dealing with a range of illnesses, injuries, trauma, and stressors. Practical strategies, based in an understanding of social identities, can maintain and enhance well-being, particularly among vulnerable populations.

Young People - World Health Organization. Social determinants of health and well-being among young people:

Childhood Wellbeing -

Men's attitude towards fatherhood 'affects child behaviour'.

Later Life: Influences of socioeconomic status, social network, and competence on subjective well-being in later life: A meta-analysis. Pinquart, Martin; Sörensen, Silvia. Psychology and Aging, Vol 15(2), Jun 2000, 187-224.

Findings: (1) Income is correlated more strongly with well-being than is education. (2) The quality of social contacts shows stronger associations with subjective well-being (SWB) in the elderly than does the quantity of social contacts. (3) Whereas having contact with friends is more strongly related to SWB than having contact with adult children, there are higher associations between life satisfaction and quality of contact with adult children when compared with quality of friendships.


Five Ways to Wellbeing: The evidence. Aked J, Marks N, Cordon C, and Thompson, S. (2008). London. NEF.

  1. connect
  2. be active
  3. take notice
  4. keep learning
  5. give

Measuring Social Capital. UK Govt. Office for National Statistics. 

World Happiness Report.

Happiness provides a better indicator of human welfare than do income, poverty, education, health and good government measured separately. In a parallel way, the inequality of well-being provides a broader measure of inequality. The report finds that people are happier living in societies where there is less inequality of happiness. And happiness inequality has increased significantly (comparing 2012-2015 to 2005-2011) in most countries, in almost all global regions, and for the population of the world as a whole.

Innovation and Well-being. There is a substantial body of work that demonstrates that positive emotions in the work place contribute to good functioning and high performance. Furthermore, there are a number of studies specifically demonstrating that positive emotional states result in higher creativity and problem-solving skills, and build resilience and the ability to handle failure – all essential requirements for innovation.

Social rank may impact immune system and inflammatory response.

Leading Well from Within: A Neuroscience and Mindfulness-Based Framework of Conscious Leadership by Daniel Friedland, MD.

GENERAL: What works wellbeing: