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The potential of green urban planning for mental health

Published on October 24, 2019

Central Park, Manhattan, New York City.
Central Park, Manhattan, New York City. Image Credit: Ajay Suresh (CC BY 2.0)

Neighborhood architects, engineers, and policymakers look at all kinds of factors and needs when building a city, including transportation links, housing, aesthetics, amenities, and so forth. Natural spaces are also considered, for their aesthetic, recreational, and ecological benefits. A study published in July in Science Advances outlines a model that will let policymakers see nature’s impacts on psychological wellbeing in much the same way.

The relationship between nature, mental health, and general psychological wellbeing is still tenuous but a subject of much research, and for now, the framework designed to encapsulate these connections is merely a concept. But if the benefits of green spaces on mental health become clearer over time, then this framework certainly has potential.

Clearly, the impacts of the environment on mental health should be considered when building cities, says Greg Bratman, an expert in psychology, public health, ecology, and recreation at the School of Environmental and Forest Sciences at the University of Washington and the Science Advances study’s lead author.

However, there’s no guarantee that cities will even be able to use this framework effectively. Often, the government department that budgets for green spaces is divorced from the department that commands the health budget. The connections between nature and mental health shows how siloed thinking needs to be replaced by more holistic governance.


Continue reading at Earther for Gizmodo.

Originally written by Robin George Andrews for Gizmodo.
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