LIVERPOOL, UNITED KINGDOM – A new report says people feel mentally healthier, and less stressed by social and economic inequalities, when they are more closely located near “green spaces” like a park, field, or wooded area; and “blue spaces” like lakes, marinas, or seas.
Researchers determined that every two-tenths-of-a-mile distance from green or blue spaces was “associated with higher odds of anxiety and depression.” The team emphasized that investing in improved public green spaces likely benefits the mental health of all, but particularly those who live “in more deprived areas.”
Green and blue spaces have been shown “to protect people from needing to see (a family doctor) for anxiety or depression,” university researcher and Professor Sarah Rodgers said. “In places where people have fewer resources overall, living near these spaces seems to have a bigger protective effect than for people living in areas with more resources,” she added.
The study involved more than 2 million people living in Wales, and reportedly represents “the largest, most comprehensive evaluation” of its kind currently available. The team acknowledges that “the effects of green spaces on mental health have been well documented.” However, the expansiveness of the study “gives a new level of understanding to this work,” it said.
It “confirms that natural environments around us really do benefit our mental health,” University of Glasgow Professor Richard Mitchell observed. Notably, he added, “the benefits seem strongest for those most at risk, so there’s huge potential for tackling the gulf in health between richer and poorer people.”
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