People who grow up in the countryside and who are in regular contact with nature are less likely to develop mental health problems as adults. At least this is what a recent study from the University of Aarhus in Denmark suggest.
We are becoming much more anxious
British people have become much more anxious since the being of the millennium, or rather the number of people suffering from depression has increased significantly. There are many reasons for this growing trend although in many cases these mental health difficulties are caused by our way of life.
Modern day demands like constant forms of commutation including email, messenger, texts and social networks etc and pollution (noise and visual) are major environmental factors which make our lives stressful. Our stress levels are then affected by the over stimulation of our mind.
Urban life can therefore play a crucial role in developing mental health problems like depression or anxiety. A study, by Kristine Engemann from the University of Aarhus in Denmark, has established a link between growing up in a natural environment and having a better mental heath in adulthood.
Growing up in the countryside for a better mental health
Kristine Engemann and her team used a surprising method to highlight their results. They used photographs taken from satellites from 1985 to 2013 so as to identify green areas close to houses where 900, 000 Danes grew up. The researchers then linked this data to the likelihood of developing one of 16 mental health problems later in life.
Using this data researchers discovered that people who grew up surrounded by green spaces, either in the countryside or in more rural areas, have 55% less of a risk of developing a mental health problem in adulthood.
Even if researchers added potential modifying factors, like social economic status or families with a predisposition for mental illness, their results always came back the same. This highlights that being surrounded by green space can actually help to protect children from developing mental health illnesses.
Of course a person will be in a better mental health the longer they spend close to nature and the countryside. Some mental health sufferers are actually sent to rural areas to relax due to a lack of experiencing this type of environment in the past.
As the researcher highlights, “Exposure to green space has been suggested to lower depression and schizophrenia risk improve children’s cognitive development, and reduce neural activity linked to psychiatric disorders”.
Green spaces in cities benefit everyone’s health
As the authors of this article suggest, it is more important than ever in today’s society to have access to green spaces. As a result more needs to be done to construct and develop green spaces in cities. These plans will be a great help and support for city dwellers to maintain a good and positive mental health.
At a time when rural areas are being increasing left behind for city centric lifestyles, green space developments are fundamental. As the author of the article states, “Our results show that green space during childhood is associated with better mental health, supporting efforts to better integrate natural environments into urban planning and childhood life.”
This is not the only study which looks into subject. Many other studies have proven the effectiveness and importance of nature in the development of a better sense of wellness for communities. In fact some therapies are based on this concept.