City residents have better mental health with access to green space • Earth.com | Space

Urban Green Space Better Mental Health 1m.jpg

In an enlightening study by Texas A&M University’s School of Public Health, researchers have uncovered a pivotal connection between urban green spaces and the mental well-being of city residents.

Spearheaded by Dr. Jay Maddock, Regents Professor of Environmental and Occupational Health, and his team from the Center for Health and Nature, the findings reveal that individuals with greater access to urban greenery exhibit a reduced need for mental health services.

This important research, detailed in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, utilizes a novel approach to assess urban greenness.

Linking green space in cities to mental health

The study employs NatureScore, an innovative tool that amalgamates data on air, noise, and light pollution, along with the presence of parks and tree canopies, to evaluate the natural environment of any given address in the United States and beyond.

NatureScore classifies areas on a scale from “Nature Deficient” (0-19 points) to “Nature Utopia” (80-100 points), providing a comprehensive measure of urban greenery.

The study’s methodology involved analyzing mental health visit data from the Texas Hospital Outpatient Public Use Data Files, spanning 2014 to mid-2019.

This data, aggregated by ZIP code, included a range of demographic information but ensured patient anonymity.

Focusing on adult outpatient encounters for conditions such as depression, emotional disorders, stress, and anxiety, the study encompassed over 61 million records from urban areas across Texas.

“The association between exposure to nature and better mental health is well established in the United States and elsewhere, but most studies use just one or two measurements of this exposure,” Maddock said.

“Our study was the first to use NatureScore, which provides more complex data, to study the correlation between urban nature exposure and mental health.”

Green threshold: NatureScore and mental health

The results were…

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