Greening vacant city land significantly reduces the feeling of depression and improves overall mental health for the surrounding residents, a study has found.
The findings, published in the journal JAMA Network Open, affect cities in the US where 15 percent of the country is considered "empty" and often spoiled or filled with garbage and overgrown vegetation.
The study found that people living within a quarter mile of leafy plots had 41.5 percent less depression compared to those living near parcels that had not been cleaned.
Those living near green plots experienced an almost 63% decrease in their mental health compared to those living near parcels] "Decayed and undeveloped spaces are factors that affect residents increase the risk of depression and stress and possibly explain why socioeconomic disparities persist in mental illness, "said Eugenia C South, assistant professor at the University of Pennsylvania in the US.
"What these new data show is that structural changes, such as the greening, have beneficial effects on the health of those in those neighborhoods," said South
. For the experiment, 541
Garbage was removed during the greening intervention The land is being re-planked, new grass and a small number of trees have been planted, a low wooden fence installed and regular monthly maintenance carried out.
Two groups of pre-and post-intervention psychiatric examinations were performed on 342 subjects, 18 months before revitalization and 18 months thereafter
Participants were asked to state how often they felt nervous, hopeless, restless and depressed that everything was exhausting and worthless
The severity of depression among residents living near green plots decreased significantly – by more than 68 percent.
Analyzes of garbage disposal versus no intervention did not show any significant changes in self-reported mental health
"The lack of change in these groups is likely because garbage collection sites did not create additional green space," said John MacDonald, a professor at the Department of Health University of Pennsylvania.  "The findings support that exposure to more natural environments may be part of the mental health recovery, especially for those in stressful and chaotic urban environments," said MacDonald.
The study shows transforming devastating neighborhood environments in green spaces can improve (19659002) Adding green spaces to neighborhoods should be considered alongside individualized treatment Measures to address mental health problems in communities with low resource use.
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