Researchers from the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia found an interesting way to fend off depression. They found that cleaning up and “greening up” vacant spaces throughout the city made people feel less depress and less worthless.
Greener Cities Fend Off Depression
The study included 450 Philadelphia residents, who were split into three groups. All residents resided near vacant lots.
The study lasted 18 months. In some of the lots, researchers planted new grass and trees, removed debris, fenced the spaces and regularly maintained them. In others, they regularly removed trash. Finally, some of the lots were left untouched.
At the end of the study, researchers surveyed the participating residents. The people living near the vacant lots which were made greener or cleaned up reported feeling significantly less worthless and depressed.
In addition, researchers observed that the biggest impact of recently-planted lots in low-income neighborhoods. The study claims that lower socioeconomic conditions already lead to increased mental distress.
Oftentimes, the vacant lots are located exactly in these “poorer neighborhoods.”
The researchers wrote:
Neighborhood physical conditions, including vacant or dilapidated spaces, trash, and lack of quality infrastructure such as sidewalks and parks, are associated with depression.
Spending time and living near green spaces have been associated with various improved mental health outcomes, including less depression, anxiety, and stress.
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