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World Health Day: Living in leafy neighborhoods can curb stress and depression, says study

April 6, 2018 depression


World Health Day: Living in leafy neighborhoods can curb stress and depression, says study

Living in green neighborhoods can alleviate symptoms of depression and anxiety to a great extent, according to an observation made by a group of researchers from the Universities of Oxford and Hong Kong (HKU). Their study is the first-of-its-kind to use high-resolution aerial photography in acquiring new outlook about the streets of 10 cities in England, Wales and Scotland.

The research paper titled “Residential greenness and prevalence of major depressive disorders: a cross-sectional, observational, associational study of 94879 adult UK Biobank participants,”  published in April 2018, explored the positive effect of natural environment in reducing stress, boosting mental health and reducing public health burden of mental illnesses. The study further strengthened the widely popular view that exposure to nature is good for mental well-being and can reduce the risk of depressive disorders by 5 percent.

With the entire world geared up to observe the World Health Day on April 07, 2018, it is necessary to pause and wonder if we lend sufficient attention to our mental health and take adequate measures to maintain a fine balance between physiological and psychological health. The initiative was started by World Health organization (WHO) envisioning ‘health for all’. Through various campaigns and initiatives, the Organization aims to provide access to quality health care services to everyone without any financial hardships.

Connection between green environment and mental health

While health conscious people do engage in necessary physical activities or focus on the nutritional adequacies in their diet, many do not understand the significance of the environment one lives in.

For the purpose of the study, the researchers focused on all kinds of neighborhoods, ranging from cities dotted with concrete walls and buildings to suburban boroughs filled with trees and gardens. Elucidating on the findings, the researchers wrote, “In the UK, policies aimed at optimising allocation and design of green spaces might help preserve psychological ecosystem services, thereby, improving the mental wellbeing of populations and enhancing the mental capital of cities.”

The research conducted on a sample of the British population has a resonating effect when it comes to closely examining the state of mental health of Americans. America’s emotional and mental health status is grim, which is evident from the numbers shared by the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI). It reveals that roughly 43.8 million American adults are afflicted with some kind of a mental illness every year. In addition, nearly 9.8 million Americans suffer from a serious psychiatric health condition that has a debilitating effect on their lives.

Include greenery while planning healthy cities

Differing psychological disorders have their roots in many factors. While various measures are being designed and implemented each year to lower the anxiety and depression levels and other mental health problems, it is imperative that the administration focuses on planning and maintaining healthy cities and neighborhoods. For this, it is necessary to include spaces full of green gardens, and flowering plants and trees.

While the effects of greenery may not be equal on all, it certainly provides shelter to homeless people and those living in poverty-stricken neighborhoods from the deleterious effects of adverse mental health. Nature is also good for physical health as people can walk, play with their children, exercise and engage in other activities away from the hustle-bustle of life.

Recovery road map

Poor mental health adversely affects not only those reeling under its impact but also the progress of the nation. The earlier one gets the problem diagnosed, the better are the treatment outcomes.

If you or your loved one is suffering from any mental health-related problem, contact Recover Mental Health experts at our 24/7 helpline 866-593-2339 for information on the best treatment center for depression in your vicinity. You can also consult our online counselors for more information on effective depression treatment provided by credible centers.


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