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Living In Green Places Associated With Better Mental Health And Reduced Medicine Use; Here's How

As well as reducing air pollution and preventing the heat island effect, green spaces can improve the mental health of residents, increasing their quality of life. Those with fewer mental health struggles are more likely to be employed, which increases their job security. The link between greenery and improved mental well being have been a topic of study since forever [1][2].

And, ISGlobal (research organisation) conducted a study that examined the relationship between mental health and the 3-30-300 rule of green spaces.

According to the study, residents of greener places have better mental health, use fewer medications, and are more likely to be physically active [3].

What Is The 3-30-300 Green Space Rule?

A 3-30-300 green space rule requires that everyone can view at least three trees from home, that their neighbourhood has a 30 per cent canopy of trees, and that they do not live more than 300 metres from a park or green space [4]. In addition to being proposed by Cecil Konijnendijk, other foresters and urban planners have also been promoting the rule widely.

Here are the important points from the study:

Point 1: This study examined the relationship between better mental health and the 3-300-300 green space rule.

Point 2: The three-30-300 rule was clearly associated with improved mental health, reduced medication use, and fewer psychologist visits, though only the latter was statistically significant. It was found that residential surrounding greenness, but not trees visible from windows or access to major green spaces, was significantly associated with better mental health.

Point 3: In the survey, only 4.7 per cent of the population met all three criteria for green space. Approximately 43 per cent of respondents lived within 15 metres of a tree, 62.1 per cent lived within 300 metres of a major green space, and 8.7 per cent lived in an area with sufficient levels of greenery surrounding their homes. Nearly 22.4 per cent, however, did not possess any of these characteristics.

Point 4: A total of 18 percent of participants reported poor mental health, 8.3 per cent reported having visited a psychologist in the previous year, and 9.4 per cent had used tranquillisers or sedatives, while 8.1 per cent had used antidepressants within the past two days.

Point 5: In Barcelona, there is relatively little green space and the 3-30-300 rule is only satisfied by a small percentage of people, despite its positive effects on mental health [5].

Point 6: As stated by the researchers, it is of utmost importance to provide citizens with more green space. We may need to tear out asphalt and plant more trees, which would not only improve health, but would also reduce heat island effects and contribute to carbon capture.

On A Final Note...

According to the research team, similar studies should be conducted in cities with more tree cover than Barcelona, as a lack of green space, particularly sufficient tree cover, makes it difficult to assess the 30 per cent aspect of the 3-30-300 rule. The limitations placed on greenery by cities were also highlighted.

Story first published: Tuesday, December 6, 2022, 16:43 [IST]
Read more about: mental health greenery medicine
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