Living in the country improves your mental health, say researchers writing in the American Chemical Society journal Environmental Science & Technology.
Mathew P. White and colleagues note that mental well-being is a major public health issue, with unipolar depressive disorder the leading cause of disability in middle- to high-income countries. Some research suggests that part of the blame for this unhappiness lies in increased urbanization — nearly 80 per cent of the world’s population in more developed regions live in city environments, which tend to have little room for nature.
To figure out if nature makes people feel better in the long run, White’s team compared the mental health of hundreds of people in the U.K. who went from a grey urban setting to a greener one with those who moved in the opposite direction. Data showed that the people who moved to greener areas were happier during all three years that their health was tracked after relocating.
“Moving to greener urban areas was associated with sustained mental health improvements, suggesting that environmental policies to increase urban green space may have sustainable public health benefits,” the researchers said in a release.