Researchers have long promoted the mood-enhancing effect of green spaces and spent time outdoors – and a new study highlights the impact your environment can have on your mental health.
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"Empty green spaces are a relatively simple structural intervention that is relatively inexpensive and can have a potentially broad or broad impact on the population," says co-author Dr. Eugenia South, assistant professor of emergency medicine at the Perelman School of Medicine, University of Pennsylvania. "Making simple interventions in the neighborhood has health implications."
A team of researchers identified 541 vacant plots of land in Philadelphia for the study and grouped them into groups of land within a quarter-mile radius, all of which showed signs of city fire, such as illegal dumping, abandoned cars, and overgrown vegetation , Next, they interviewed 442 adults who lived in one of these clusters. People were told they were selected for a study that focused on "improving our understanding of urban health" and answered mental health issues. They did not know that the researchers were involved in upcoming urban greening efforts.
After the initial surveys were completed, researchers randomly selected 37 clusters for a greening intervention, which involved removing garbage and trash, planting grass and trees, installing a fence, and performing routine maintenance. Another 36 clusters had garbage removed and little maintenance, but little in the way of increasing green space. The last 37 remained untouched.
Within 18 months of completion of the restoration, the researchers again interviewed 342 of the original study participants, approximately one-third of whom lived near one of the clusters assigned to the greening intervention. Compared to people who lived close to many without improvement, these people experienced a 41% decrease in depressive feelings and a decrease in feelings of worthlessness by almost 51%. Overall mental health improvements did not reach statistical significance, but South says researchers are "fairly confident that people will experience better mental health."
Results of the study suggest that there is something green A lot of clusters that only came through the garbage saw no significant benefit for mental health.
"The green space in and of itself is important," says South. "There are several mechanisms by which this is possible, including increased social connections and recovery from mental fatigue and coping with the general stress in life." The fact that it's green space, not parking, is important important: This fence describes the room as a kind of space, which is now maintained – a space that people pay attention to. "
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Greening has been particularly effective for people living in neighborhoods that are below the poverty line. "The poorer neighborhoods are hardest hit as the neighborhood is run-down and run-down," says South. "These people are potentially the people who have the biggest impact on neighborhood health, so changing things in this environment could have the biggest impact on them."
In conclusion, the findings suggest that urban greening could provide a real opportunity for cities seeking to improve the mental health of the population, especially as it only costs $ 1,600 to turn an abandoned property and $ 180 per Year to get it says South. She and her colleagues are already working with the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society to spread the program in Philadelphia and say that other cities have also expressed interest.
"This is not an end-to-end treatment for depression in any way – This goes along with other individual patient treatments – but when you think about the amount of money [spent on mental health care] it's a pretty inexpensive intervention," says South.