WALKING through a park, forest or green are will surely induce a sense of serenity, relaxation and happiness, a health technology consultant said, adding this was no mere coincidence.
According to Hello Health, spending time in nature comes with a host of benefits to mental health, including reduced stress and giving a sense of well-being.
Scientists at Stanford University recently found that running for 90 minutes in green areas can reduce the risk of anxiety or depression.
How green cities can boost mental health
In one study, the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society used several areas to see how people reacted to places that were either cleared of garbage, left untouched, or turned “green”.
Before they began their study, a group of doctors and experts interviewed residents in their respective residential areas, looking for signs of low mental health.
Behavioural patterns such as nervousness, anxiety and low self-esteem were noted by the experts before they began the green transformation on one of the areas.
The results showed positive response as researchers noted a 41.5 percent reduction in depression and overall 62.8 percent reduction in mental health-related problems for those who lived in green surroundings.
The drastic change of behaviour is particularly noticed among the populations living below the poverty line. Residents in the area that experienced a green transformation reported a decline in depression rate of 68.7 percent.
On the other hand, people living in areas that are simply cleaned or left alone simply showed little change in mental health.
Green townships should be public policy
One way to balance the process of urbanisation and the depletion of natural resources is to create more green cities. To do so, authorities may have to require developers to go “green”, especially when they build luxury housing projects or public housing spaces.
And in circumstances where the economic opportunities are low and where jobs are scarce, the lack greenery and natural surroundings can add to stress faced by those in lower income groups. Compared to the benefits, the costs of going green is relatively low.