Studies have shown that urban green spaces can have a positive effect on mental health, providing improved well-being, feelings of security and connectedness, involuntary attention restoration as well as reduced stress and improved cognitive functioning.
Green spaces are natural or landscaped areas of land, such as parks, woods, or meadows, providing many physical and psychological health benefits. They can provide a place of refuge, a space for physical activity, and a place to experience nature.
Mental Health Benefits of Access to Green Spaces
Reduced Stress – Accessing nature can reduce overall stress levels, by decreasing cortisol levels, a hormone associated with anxiety and depression.
Improved Cognitive Function – Research has shown that exposure to outdoor green spaces can significantly decrease symptoms of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD).
Improved Mood – Exposure to nature has been linked to improved mood, increased self-esteem and increased feelings of lifetime satisfaction.
Potential Obstacles to Accessing Green Spaces
Unfortunately, many people, particularly those living in cities, may lack access to urban green spaces. In some cities, there is an inadequate amount of green space to go around, and in some neighborhoods, green space may even be inaccessible due to crime or lack of public transportation.
The benefits of access to urban green spaces for mental health are clear. However, many people still lack access to these spaces due to a variety of factors. Increased access to green spaces, through public transportation, increased resources, or increased awareness of existing green spaces, could potentially provide a range of mental health benefits for individuals living in urban areas.