How did you spend your childhood? Exploring creeks and streams, or riding subways and walking through densely packed urban neighborhoods? I grew up in the suburbs, but they weren’t very built up yet so my friends and I spent our days running through the woods and creeping through abandoned farmhouses.
A study of over 900,000 people in Denmark showed that “children who grew up with the lowest levels of green space had up to 55% higher risk of developing a psychiatric disorder independent from effects of other known risk factors.”
We all know being in nature and green spaces are good for the soul, but the study is eye-opening. The subjects of the study didn’t have to live directly in nature to enjoy the mental health benefits of the great outdoors, but only had to live within a reasonable distance to drive to a park, forest, or even urban green spaces.
The people who conducted the study also determined that the results were “dosage dependent.” In other words, the higher percentage of someone’s childhood spent in green spaces, the lower their chances of developing a mental illness.
Income data was factored into the study as well because people of a higher socioeconomic status usually live in areas with more access to parks and have the means to potentially shield their children from certain factors that may lead to mental disorders.
More research is still needed on this subject, but it’s clear that the effects of nature are indeed good for the soul. So, even if you live in an urban area, go sit in a park or take a walk through an open green space once in a while. It’s good for you and your kids!