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Do Green Spaces Help Lower The Odds Of Taking Mental Health Drugs?

Visiting urban green areas such as community gardens, parks, and other greenery-filled areas in Finland on a regular basis, rather than just taking up the view from the home window may be associated with lower usage of anxiety, depression, blood pressure, and insomnia drugs for the city’s dwellers.

Studies that were conducted in Finland proved that visiting areas filled with greens at least thrice a week cuts down the probability of people reaching out for medication to treat mental health problems by a third. Moreover, it was also found that for the households with the lowest annual income, the positive effects of being surrounded by green areas were stronger.

The Research

These research discoveries are linked directly to the fact that there is growing evidence of various health problems rising due to the lack of urban green areas. Less fortunate communities tend to get fewer chances to be surrounded by nature as access to these green areas is unequal and unfair. To further investigate this connection, researchers of the Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare collected a response from 16000 residents located in Espoo, Helsinki, and Vantaa. 

Allan Mas/Pexels | Poor families are often not fortunate enough to visit green areas which make the access unfair and unequal.

The people who took the survey were told to provide information about their use of prescribed drugs for depression, anxiety and insomnia, as well as for asthma and high blood pressure. They were asked questions such as how much time they spent outdoors exercising in green spaces during May and September. The survey had options that ranged from ‘never’ to ‘five or more times a week.’

The survey was taken in order to gather information about how citizens aged at least 25 experienced exurban green and blue areas located within a kilometers’ radius of their living spaces. The green areas included parks, gardens, forests, castle parks, zoos, cemeteries, natural grasslands, wetlands, and moors; and the blue areas included riversides, lakes, and the sea. 

Pixabay/Pexels | This survey helped figure out if being surrounded by green is linked with a reduction in mental health drug usage

The Conclusion

It was found that there is, in fact, a deep association between visiting urban green areas and a lower likelihood of intaking drugs. As compared to visiting green spaces once a week, visiting 3 to 4 times has shown to be correlated with a 33% lower chance of using drugs for the treatment of mental health as well as 26% odds of taking drugs for asthma and 36% lower chances of taking blood pressure medication. 

Kevin Bidwell/Pexel | Researchers believe that with the right motivation, we can increase the amount of urban green areas in the world

The researchers at Finland Institute for Health and Wellness believe that presenting and piling up scientific evidence that supports the health benefits of being exposed to green areas is going to help in the increase of high-quality green spaces as well as the promotion of their use. 

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