Home Health Live in a city? A lively, greener neighbourhood may boost your happiness

Live in a city? A lively, greener neighbourhood may boost your happiness

by admin

Canadian city-dwellers surrounded by a symphony of birds and diverse tree species may be experiencing unexpected benefits: improved mental health.

A Canadian study, published in Nature last month, found that living in an urban neighbourhood with a rich variety of birds and trees was associated with higher reports of good mental health.

The study discovered that residents in areas with a greater diversity of birds reported feeling 6.64 per cent happier. Similarly, those living near a wider range of tree species reported a 5.36 per cent higher rate of good mental health.

These increases were evident even after accounting for other factors such as socioeconomic status.

“We found that there was a positive association between mental health and the diversity of trees and the diversity of birds in people’s postcodes,” explained Rachel Buxton, who is the study’s lead author and assistant professor at the Institute of Environmental Science at Carleton University.

“There is a whole wealth of other research that shows taking a walk in nature is super good for your mental health and your physical health. So ours is just one piece of this literature and the story that’s saying, ‘It’s great medicine for your mental and physical health to go outside and be in nature’,” she added.

In any given year, one in five Canadians experiences a mental illness, according to the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH).

As the population continues to age and urbanise, it is estimated that within a generation, 8.9 million Canadians will be living with a mental illness, reports the Mental Health Commission of Canada.

While research has shown that neighbourhood characteristics and geographic inequalities (such as unemployment, schools, and low income) predominantly explain mental health outcomes, especially in urban environments, the researchers also found that other factors, such as green space, can significantly impact mental health.

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