How Green Space Can Help Your Mental Health, According to Science
Have you been collecting succulents or other small plants recently? If you don’t have a garden of your own, chances are you’ve got a plethora of plants adorning your apartment. There is actually a reason you might love to have green little plants around your place. Green space is good for your mental health.
According to a recent study, symptoms of depression can be reduced when people in urban areas have access to green space. Researchers in Philadelphia worked to prove this theory, by planting green spaces in vacant lots around the city. It was then discovered that adults living in the areas around the new green spaces felt a drop in depression.
The study tested this out by transforming 110 vacant lot clusters and then tracking how the changes impacted 3 study groups. 442 adults were monitored in this study over the course of 18 months to gauge how the green spaces affected them.
After a year and a half, it was determined:
Among community-dwelling adults, self-reported feelings of depression and worthlessness were significantly decreased, and self-reported poor mental health was nonsignificantly reduced for those living near greened vacant land. The treatment of blighted physical environments, particularly in resource-limited urban settings, can be an important treatment for mental health problems alongside other patient-level treatments.
This study also found that many of these vacant lots that needed to be transformed were in low-income areas. In Philadelphia in particular, there are up to 40,000 vacant spaces but most are clustered in the lower-income areas. Eugenia South, assistant professor and co-author of the study, said “In the areas that had been greened, I found that people had reduced heart rates when they walked past those spaces.”
So, if you live in the city and have been steadily decorating your apartment with greenery – keep it up! It is great for your mental health. However, having green spaces outside of your apartment that you pass on your daily commute will be even more beneficial.