Mental Health

Academic papers and other referenceable material concerning the link between public open space and improved mental health.

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Title Author  Year  Synopsis
Beyond Blue to Green: The benefits of contact with nature for mental health and well-being Mardie Townsend and Rona Weerasuriya - Deakin University & Beyond Blue 2010 This report, commissioned by beyondblue: the national depression initiative (beyondblue), provides a review of existing Australian and international literature on the links between mental health and well-being and contact with nature, especially through green spaces.
The health benefits of urban green space: a review of the evidence A.C.K. Lee, R. Maheswaran – Journal of Public Health  2010 Urban development projects can be costly and have health impacts. An evidence-based approach to urban planning is therefore essential. However, the evidence for physical and non-physical health benefits of urban green space is unclear.
People and Green Spaces: Promoting public health and mental well-being through ecotherapy Ambra Burls – Journal of Public Mental Health   There is growing evidence that the quality of our relationship with nature impacts on our mental health. More than 80% of people in the UK live in urban areas and there is evidence that ‘less green nature means reduced mental wellbeing, or at least less opportunity to recover from mental stress’
Green cities provide a mental health boost that lasts The Conversation  2014 It’s been established that enjoying green spaces in otherwise grey urban areas can lead to improved mental health for city-dwellers. But new research has revealed how surprisingly quickly those benefits appear and how long they last.
Green spaces delivery lasting mental health benefits University of Exeter  2014 Green space in towns and cities could lead to significant and sustained improvements in mental health. Analysing data that followed people over a five year period, the research has ground that moving to a greener area not only improves people’s mental health but that the effect continues long after they have moved.
Exposure to Neighborhood Green Space and mental Health: Evidence from the Survey of the Health of Wisconsin International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health  2014 Green space is now widely viewed as a health-promoting characteristic of residential environments, and has been linked to mental health benefits such as recovery from mental fatigue to reduced stress, particular through experimental work in environmental psychology.
Longitudal Effects on Mental health of Moving to Greener and Less Green Urban Areas Environmental Science & Technology  2014 Despite growing evidence of public health benefits from urban green space there has been little longitudinal analysis. This study used data to explore how moving to greener or less green areas may affect mental health over time.
Physical Activity and Mental Well-being in a Cohort Aged 60-64 Years  Stephanie V. Black, MSc, Rachel Cooper, PhD, Kathryn R. Martin, PhD, Soren Brage, PhD, Diana Kuh, PhD, Mai Stafford, PhD   2015

Mental well-being is an essential component of good health and is associated with reduced risk of premature mortality, morbidity and functional decline.

Current interest in positive psychology has led to growing awareness of positive mental well-being. Physical activity is an important modifiable factor that has beneficial influences on physical health across life. 
“Psycho-social Value of Space”. Whole Building Design Guide. Heerwagen, Judith  2008  The author states that environment is not only to satisfy the “survival needs’ but also the “well-being needs” which is the opportunity for relaxation and psychological restoration. In regarding to the “well-being needs”, there are four environment features of fulfillment: (1) A quiet place with low sensory stimulation. (2) A place to connect with nature. (3) Provide distant view. (4) Landscape with visual elements such as outdoor seating and walk paths. 
“Healthy Open Space: A Summary of The Impact of Open Spaces on Health and Well-being.”  Regional Public Health, New Zealand 2010  Two studies were used in this report to support the psychological benefits such as relieving stress and tension and diminishing anxiety can be recognized after contact with nature. A study form Ulrich found stress level of Americans are to be decrease after exposure to nature scenes. In contrast to nature scenery, urban scenes where lacking natural elements tend to work against emotional well-being which significantly increasing sadness. Another Swedish study showing that the longer period people stay in public open space, the less stressed they feel, regardless with age, gender and social-economic status. 
“The Benefits of Open Space: The Psychological Value of Open Space.” The Great Swamp Watershed Association  Rubinstein, Nora J. 2016  The author believes that the main value of natural environment is about “improvement in mood”. There are four different ways for natural landscapes to provide psychological benefits. (1) Nature is place to "psychological escape" for contemplation, solitude, privacy and intimacy . (2) Nature is a sense of calm that helps therapeutic mental recovery. (3) Nature as a stress reducer by provides "cognitive quiet" and fewer decisions based environment. (4) Natural experiences helps recognized self-concept which truly respect to their own strengths and weaknesses, greater self-sufficiency, greater concern for other people, and a more positive view of themselves. 
The Health and Social Benefits of Recreation  State of California Resources Agency. 2015  This reference discusses the social benefits of outdoor recreation in public open spaces with California providing a contextual backdrop of how this theory of social benefits in public open spaces works practically. Social aspects that the reference covers are the strengthening of communities, promoting social bonds and supporting the development of the youth. This reference on a part focuses on the benefits of recreation in public open spaces for the youth. It discusses how it also improves their education and helps deter them from negative behaviour. It also touches on how proximity to parks and recreational facilities can lead to safe and cleaner neighbourhoods which in turn also creates a more vibrant community.
Social Glue. The contribution of sport and active recreation to community wellbeing Vic Health 2015  This provides a good perspective on the links between sport and social well being. The relationship between people playing sport and their social and mental well being is analysed. This is a good viewpoint to consider for the report as it touches base on the social wellbeing and cohesiveness of the local community