Posted on May 24, 2013, 6 a.m.
Enabling city dwellers to reconnect with nature, parks and urban gardens help to relieve mental distress and improve life satisfaction.
In that urbanization poses a potential threat to mental health, previously published studies suggest that urban green spaces, such as parks and gardens, may improve well-being. Mathew White, from the University of Exeter (United Kingdom), and colleagues analyzed data collected from more than 10,000 UK residents gathered between 1991 and 2008. The team revealed that people with access to numerous green areas reported less mental distress and higher levels of life satisfaction, as compared to those without such access, This link between green spaces and greater well-being held true even after the researchers accounted for confounding factors. Interestingly, the positive impact of green spaces on well-being was equal to about one-third that of being married and equal to one-tenth of being employed vs. unemployed. Reporting that: “ individuals have both lower mental distress and higher well-being when living in urban areas with more green space,” the study authors conclude that: “the potential cumulative benefit at the community level highlights the importance of policies to protect and promote urban green spaces for well-being.”
Mathew P. White, Ian Alcock, Benedict W. Wheeler, Michael H. Depledge. “Would You Be Happier Living in a Greener Urban Area? A Fixed-Effects Analysis of Panel Data.” Psychological Science, 23 April 2013.