Green space can make people happier for years
Nearly 10 years after the term “nature deficit disorder” entered the nation’s vocabulary, research is showing for the first time that green space does appear to improve mental health in a sustained way. The report gives urban park advocates another argument in support of their cause.
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 percent of the world’s population in more developed regions live in city environments, which tend to have little room for nature.
Other studies suggest a link between happiness and green space, but no research had convincingly established cause and effect of nature on well-being over time. To help fill that gap, White’s team decided to examine the issue.