Our personal experiences with nature that have left us feeling happier and more refreshed are more than just anecdotal evidence that nature is good for the soul. This claim is backed up by science, according to a new study published in JAMA. The study showed that turning vacant urban spaces into green areas reduced depression symptoms in people who lived nearby, particularly in lower-income areas.
As part of the study, researchers at Penn Medicine collaborated with the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society to clean up vacant lots throughout Philadelphia and fill them with plants. Researchers interviewed people who lived near the lots before and after they were cleaned up and found that people were less likely to feel nervous, hopeless, and depressed after the “greening intervention.” In the lower-income neighborhoods the team surveyed, residents were 27.5% less likely to experience these symptoms.
The planting project in Philadelphia cost only about $1,600 with an estimated $180 annual maintenance cost—a small price to pay for improving mental health.
Read the full article at NPR.