Having a garden and growing up in a green neighbourhood may protect your kids’ mental health even decades later…

Research has found that children who grow up with greener surroundings have up to 55 percent less risk of developing various mental disorders later in life.

The study, by Aarhus University in Denmark, is based on satellite data from 1985 to 2013 in which researchers mapped the presence of green space around the childhood homes of almost one million Danes. They then compared this data with the risk of developing one of 16 different mental disorders later in life.

The study shows that children surrounded by the high amounts of green space in childhood have up to a 55% lower risk of developing a mental disorder – even after adjusting for other known risk factors such as socioeconomic status, urbanisation, and the family history of mental disorders.

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How green neighbours boost mental health

Researchers know that noise, air pollution, infections and poor socio-economic conditions increase the risk of developing a mental disorder.

Conversely, other studies have shown that more green space in the local area creates greater social cohesion and increases people’s physical activity level and that it can improve children’s cognitive development. These are all factors that may have an impact on people’s mental health.

…The risk of developing a mental disorder decreases incrementally the longer you have been surrounded by green space from birth and up to the age of 10

The entire childhood must be green

“With our dataset, we show that the risk of developing a mental disorder decreases incrementally the longer you have been surrounded by green space from birth and up to the age of 10. Green space throughout childhood is therefore extremely important,” says Kristine Engemann from Department of Bioscience and the National Centre for Register-based Research at Aarhus University, who spearheaded the study.

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Green, healthy cities

As the researchers adjusted for other known risk factors of developing a mental disorder, they see their findings as a robust indication of a close relationship between green space, urban life, and mental disorders.

“There is increasing evidence that the natural environment plays a larger role for mental health than previously thought. Our study is important in giving us a better understanding of its importance across the broader population,” says Engemann.

This knowledge has important implications for sustainable urban planning as a larger and larger proportion of the world’s population lives in cities.

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Source: Aarhus University via www.sciencedaily.com

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