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News / April 5, 2019

Link between green space and mental health discovered

by Siobhan Hiscott

New research suggests that people who have grown up in close contact with nature are less likely to develop mental health problems in adulthood than peers who had less access to green space as children.

A study from postdoctoral researcher Kristine Engemann and colleagues from Aarhus University in Denmark has found a link between growing up in a natural environment and enjoying better mental health in adulthood.

The research was published in PNAS.

Using satellite data from 1985 to 2013 to identify the green spaces in close proximity to the childhood homes of more than 900,000 Danes, the researchers found that people who grow up surrounded by green areas have an up to 55% lower risk of developing mental health problems as adults than others.

These results remained in place even after the team adjusted for potentially modifying factors, including a person’s socioeconomic status, their family history of mental health problems, and migration from rural to urban areas.

The Danish study also reveals that the longer someone spent surrounded by nature during their childhood – defined by them as from early infancy until the age of 10 – the more likely they are to experience good mental health later in life.