Undeniably, the picture of mental health in the US is pretty poor. The numbers of mental health issues such as stress, depression, and anxiety are swelling unabated. As a result, looking for ways to provide mental health support has become a top priority for researchers.
Several matters explain the ever-increasing numbers of mental health issues such as our changing lifestyles. We are increasingly leaning toward sedentary and connected lifestyles. In other words, we tend to sit all day long (low levels of physical activity) and remain on call all the time with the intruding role that social media, email, and so on are playing in our lives.
Moreover, environmental factors such as pollution are also contributing to poor mental well-being. By understanding these risk factors, researchers are learning which factors to correct for better psychological health. And, one factor that has emerged from these findings is greenery or green spaces.
What Does The Research Say?
The latest research from Aarhus University in Denmark says that people who grow up in close proximity with nature are less likely to develop mental health concerns in their adulthood as compared to their peers who have reduced access to green spaces as children.
This study is published in the journal PNAS and it used data from 1985 to 2013 to identify green spaces in close vicinity of the childhood homes of over 900,000 Danes. The data was then correlated with the population’s risk of developing a mental health condition (one out of the 16 conditions selected).
The researchers learned that individuals who grew up in areas surrounded by greenery had about 55% lowered risk of mental health concerns as adults. These results were in comparison to those who had less greenery in their surroundings.
The results remained the same even after the investigators adjusted some of the factors such as a person’s socioeconomic status and more that could influence mental health. The data of this Danish study also showed that the longer the time a person spent surrounded by nature during their young age, the more likely is the person to experience good mental health in his life later on.
The Need For Green Spaces
Researchers of this study reiterate the need for having more green spaces in urban areas. Previous research has also pointed out the strong association between the levels of air and noise pollution with poor mental health.
The current findings also argue that there is an extensive need for safeguarding existing green areas and developing more green spaces for improved mental well-being. From your end, you should also say no to polluting green spaces.
Moreover, take steps to improve your mental health. Some of the ways to go about doing that include spending time outdoors and increasing your physical activity. Exercise transports more oxygen to the brain, which boosts its health. Additionally, eat healthily and challenge your brain to keep it active. Not to forget, control stress before it controls you.