A research team at the University of Exeter Medical School in the United Kingdom recently published a study which found that residents of urban environments with green areas experience improved mental health over those who live in more built-up neighborhoods.
The team, whose report was published in the journal of Environmental Science and Technology, used data from the British Household Panel Survey, which gathers information from households all over the country. They focused on residents who had moved to greener regions and those who had moved away from such areas. They also adjusted their findings for factors such as higher incomes and education so that these factors didn't skew results.
These findings are important for urban planners thinking about introducing new green spaces to our towns and cities, suggesting they could provide long-term and sustained benefits for local communities," Dr Ian Alcock, the lead researcher on the study, said in a statement. "What we've found suggests that the mental health benefits of green space are not only immediate, but sustainable over long periods of time."
The study also found that even just the anticipation of moving to a city with less green space had detrimental effects on mental health.
The hope is that studies like this will reach the desks of urban planners around the country, who must take into consideration a variety of factors in determining how a city should be organized and run. This includes striking a balance between urban spaces that are dense and promote public transit, but still feature green areas where residents can still come in contact with a natural environment.