Create Urban Green Spaces to Improve Mental Health

urban green spaces help improve mental health

Some people only get into close contact with nature after they are grown up. For example, Rebecca Lemos-Otero tells of a fascinating story about her first experience with the natural environment. She grew up in Washington D.C.’s Columbia Heights suburb she only came into contact with nature in her late teens.

Lemos-Otero is not the only one in this scenario.  Other community people got to experience the beauty of nature when her mother launched a community garden in Colombia Heights neighbourhood. Many people now realize the significance of urban green spaces following the introduction of the idea of community gardens by Rebecca Lemos-Otero’s mother.

Urban communities often times consisting of groups from low socioeconomic status are plagued by poor social amenities. For instance, in these suburbs, there are very few recreational parks or none at all. The buildings cover vast areas, and there are also other structures that are often untidy, and some of them are abandoned.

Crime rates are usually high in these communities since many people grow up under poor conditions. Some of the mental health issues affecting people in those urban locations can be a result of inaccessibility to the natural environment. Many people who live in places that are often overcrowded barely have access to Mother Nature.

Significance Of Green Spaces

Rebecca Lemos-Otero recalls that she quickly fell in love with the garden which she says was so peaceful. Rebecca said she found the garden offering quality breathing space and relief from the neighbourhood. During that time, their community had high crime rates, abandoned buildings and lots which were all an eyesore.

tools used to work in community gardens

Researchers in Philadelphia also published a report that supports Lemos-Otero’s park experience according to the research, having access to green spaces help in reducing symptoms of stress among people living near them. People who live in low-income backgrounds can significantly benefit from having access to green parks.

The people from lower socioeconomic communities tend to experience worse physical and mental issues as a result of their living conditions. However, when these people visit green spaces, their conditions significantly improve. A green environment possesses some natural qualities that can soothe the soul.

Different researchers believe that there is a biological effect on our bodies due to exposure to nature. Our bodies have a strong connection to the environment, and that is the reason why they respond well to nature. A green background is not only attractive, but it is also refreshing.

The atmosphere is just cool, and it gives you peace of mind. Nothing is soothing as breathing fresh air and relaxing in a lush environment. The beauty of nature will somehow soothe your soul such that you can think positively.

Green spaces also help to improve the appearance of the neighbourhood. In most cases, people tend to dump all sorts of things in open areas which make them look terrible. There are also other individuals who use these spaces as venues to abuse drugs.

Greening And Stress Reduction

From her own experience as well as conducting observational studies, Lemos-Otero was convinced that greening helps to reduce stress. She observed that many people had reduced heart rates when they walk past greened spaces. Green parks are refreshing, and they help people who live nearby to improve their wellbeing.

The experience and today inspired Lemos-Otero she is a proud leader of a local nonprofit organization, City Blossoms. The organization consists of about 15community green spaces across Washington D.C. and they specifically focus on children. The founder of the nonprofit believes that children can enjoy positive growth and development if they have exposure to green spaces.

Children from minority and low-income backgrounds often experience poor upbringing which affects their development. These children also grow up under stressful conditions that affect their performance in school and welfare later in life.  When the kids from such communities have access to some greenery, they can grow up in good spirits.

Lemos-Otero says that children love community gardens since they provide an alternative place to relax and forget their worries. As such, the idea of green spaces is spreading to other urban areas in different cities in the US.

Having access to nature makes a big difference in the stress levels of various people. A garden is a safe place that gives you peace of mind. If you are reading under the shade of a tree, you feel relaxed which helps to lower the level of stress.

Many you people say that green environment makes them feel lighter and stress-free. Stress is a common condition among many people, and it affects their mental as well as physical health. If not treated, stress can affect people in many ways. Therefore, nature can act as a natural remedy to conditions like stress and depression.

Greening Strategy Lowers Crime

Lemos-Otero together with her colleagues also discovered that greening experiment helps to reduce crime. People with positive and focused thinking are likely not to engage in criminal activities. Therefore, the strategy of greening open spaces can also help to improve the safety of residents.

The other thing is that people interact with each other for more extended periods when they exercise outdoors. Such a scenario helps to improve social cohesion among them which in turn also improves the members’ mental health and well-being.

gardening tools used to create urban green spaces

Greening Is Affordable

Greening of open spaces in urban areas has many advantages to the residents within the neighbourhood. The strategy helps to lower stress levels especially among people from low socioeconomic backgrounds. The remedy is natural; therefore, it is cost-effective, and it has no side effects.

The most beautiful thing about greening intervention is that it is affordable. For instance, the initiative in Philadelphia cost only $1,600 and another $180 per each lot every year for maintenance. The benefits out of such little investment are immense to all people living in the surrounding areas.

There are vacant lots within communities consisting of people with low-income status. The other issue is that these communities have by a high level of crime, idleness and different mental challenges among the residents. Therefore, the low-cost improvement to neighbourhoods can improve mental health and communities should readily adopt it.

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