Positive life events often lead to a short-term improvement in well-being that eventually subsides. However, researchers have discovered that when people move to greener areas, their mental health improves immediately and the effects don’t subside, but last for years. Additionally, individuals living in greener urban areas show fewer signs of depression and anxiety. These are the findings from a new report in the journal, Environmental Science and Technology. Co-author Dr. Mathew White, from the European Centre for Environment and Human Health at the University of Exeter, UK, analyzed the data of 12,000 U.K. residents over 18 years of age. The researchers examined how residents’ levels of depression and anxiety changed as they moved to more built-up areas or areas with more green space. The researchers found that individuals living in greener areas report fewer signs of depression, greater life satisfaction and greater subjective well-being. The study controlled for factors such as neighbourhood, socio-economic status and residents’ income.
Although it is unknown how much green space is beneficial, this study adds to the growing body of research that spending time in natural surroundings is beneficial to mental health and well-being. For more information, read the report.
CMHA Ontario encourages residents to be physically active outdoors through the programs “Mood Walks” and “Healthy Hikes”. Mood Walks creates opportunities for older adults living with mental health conditions to be physically active. Mood Walks works in partnership with mental health agencies as well as Hike Ontario and Conservation Ontario to launch new walking programs, connect individuals with local hiking clubs, and improve access to parks, hiking trails, conservation areas, and other community resources.
Mood Walks is linked to Conservation Ontario’s Healthy Hikes Challenge. takes place from May 1 to October 31, 2014 and encourages Ontarians to spend time exploring the 270 conservation areas across the province. The program also allows participants to track their progress online for a chance to win great prizes.