With the World Health Organisation recently citing depression as the main cause of disability worldwide, researchers are showing that natural environments could act as vital resources to improve health and wellbeing. But how do these effects vary over time and are they sustainable?
Closely following people over a five year period, a recent study has found that green spaces in towns and cities can lead to significant and long-lasting improvements in mental health.
The research has shown that moving to a greener area can have immediate benefits for people’s mental health, and that this effect continues for at least 3 years they have moved.
Analysing information from over 1,000 participants, the team from the University of Exeter Medical School also showed that people relocating to a more built up area suffered a drop in mental health. Interestingly this fall occurred before they moved; returning to normal once the move was complete.
Published in the journal Environmental Science & Technology, the findings could have particular relevance for urban planners thinking about introducing new green spaces to our towns and cities, suggesting they could provide long term and sustained benefits for local communities.