Saturday February 16, 2019

Greening Vacant Lots can Reduce Depression in Urban Areas

The findings support that exposure to more natural environments can be part of restoring mental health, particularly for people living in stressful and chaotic urban environments

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Greening vacant land is a highly inexpensive and scalable way to improve cities and enhance people's health.
Greening vacant land is a highly inexpensive and scalable way to improve cities and enhance people's health. Pixabay

Greening sidewalks, parks and vacant or dilapidated spaces could be an important and inexpensive tool to help address the rising cases of depression, anxiety and stress in urban communities, suggests a study.

“Dilapidated and vacant spaces are factors that put residents at an increased risk of depression and stress and may explain why socioeconomic disparities in mental illness persist,” said lead author Eugenia South, Assistant Professor at the University of Pennsylvania in the US.

“Greening vacant land is a highly inexpensive and scalable way to improve cities and enhance people’s health… while mental health therapies will always be a vital aspect of treatment. Revitalizing the places where people live, work and play may have broad, population-level impact on mental health outcomes,” added Charles Branas, Professor at the varsity.

In an experiment, published in JAMA Network Open, the research team measured the mental health of 342 Philadelphia residents before and after 541 vacant lots had been converted into green spaces as well as residents living near untreated abandoned lots, and those that just received trash clean-up.

In neighbourhoods below the poverty line, the feelings of depression among residents who lived near green lots decreased significantly by more than 68 per cent.
In neighbourhoods below the poverty line, the feelings of depression among residents who lived near green lots decreased significantly by more than 68 per cent. Pixabay

They found that people living within a quarter of a mile radius of greened lots had a 41.5 per cent decrease in feelings of depression compared to those who lived near the lots that had not been cleaned.

Those living near green lots also experienced a nearly 63 per cent decrease in self-reported poor mental health compared to those living near lots that received no intervention.

“What these new data show us is that making structural changes, like greening lots, has a positive impact on the health of those living in these neighbourhoods. And that it can be achieved in a cost-effective and scalable way,” Branas said.

Also Read: HIV Drug Is Not Linked to Depression: Study

In neighbourhoods below the poverty line, the feelings of depression among residents who lived near green lots decreased significantly by more than 68 per cent.

“The findings support that exposure to more natural environments can be part of restoring mental health, particularly for people living in stressful and chaotic urban environments,” the researchers said. (IANS)

Next Story

Premature to Say Social Media Use Leads to Depression

Examining the role that these differences play will help clarify the ways in which social media interacts with mental health, with implications for parents, policymakers, and healthcare professionals alike, the study noted

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Multiple apps are displayed on an iPhone in New York.. VOA

Use of social media does not necessarily cause depressive symptoms later in adolescents and young adults, according to a recent research.

The study, however, showed that relatively higher depressive symptoms resulted due to more social media use later only among adolescent girls.

The latest study stands in contrast to recent claims that suggests teenagers’ use of social media could lead to depression.

“You have to follow the same people over time in order to draw the conclusion that social media use predicts greater depressive symptoms. By using two large longitudinal samples, we were able to empirically test that assumption,” said lead author Taylor Heffer from the Brock University in Canada.

For the study, the team surveyed 594 adolescents and 1,132 college undergraduates.

The results, published in Clinical Psychological Science, showed that social media use did not predict depressive symptoms later among adolescents or college undergraduates; rather, greater depressive symptoms predicted more social media use over time, but only among adolescent girls.

Depression
Depression is a common mental disorder. Flickr

“This finding contrasts with the idea that people who use a lot of social media become more depressed over time. Instead, adolescent girls who are feeling down may turn to social media to try and make themselves feel better,” said Heffer.

Overall, the research suggests that the fear surrounding social media use and its impact on mental health may be premature.

“When parents read media headlines such as ‘Facebook Depression’, there is an inherent assumption that social media use leads to depression,” added Heffer.

Also Read- Exercise Can Help Fight Against Deep Abdominal Belly Fat: Study

In addition, different groups of people use social media for different reasons including making social comparisons or while feeling down. While another group of people may use it for more positive reasons, such as keeping in contact with friends, according to the study.

Examining the role that these differences play will help clarify the ways in which social media interacts with mental health, with implications for parents, policymakers, and healthcare professionals alike, the study noted. (IANS)