Further evidence that people’s mental health as well as physical health improves with access to natural beauty and green spaces.

A new study measured the mental health of Philadelphia residents before and after blighted lots had been converted into green spaces. Almost one in five American adults report some form of mental illness; more than 16 million adults experience depression alone every year. Yet patient mental health services only account for an estimated 5 percent of total medical care spending in the United States. Noting that “spending time and living near green spaces have been associated with various improved mental health outcomes, including less depression, anxiety, and stress,” a group of researchers from the University of Pennsylvania set out to determine if by changing the places near where people live, they could affect change in mental health outcomes. Their conclusion may come as little surprise to those of who know the health benefits of green space: “Greening vacant urban land significantly reduces feelings of depression and improves overall mental health for the surrounding residents.” But just how much improvement local residents reported is surprising. In all, 541 vacant lots in Philadelphia were selected for the study, and divided into three categories: Roughly one-third were given a green makeover, one-third were cleaned up of […]


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