Access to natural space has a positive effect on the mental health of teens, according to a recently published British scientific study. Being able to go regularly to a forest or park may help reduce your risk of developing behavioral or emotional disturbances.
Reducing stress, improving self-esteem, improving creativity… These are some of nature’s benefits to the human mind and body, Alex Kosker, a conservation psychologist at the University of Brittany Occidental, noted in 2018, on the site Conversation.
All these benefits have been highlighted over the years by various scientific studies. To this long list of positive health effects, we must now add another element: access to a natural space will have a positive effect on the mental health of adolescents, according to a study by British researchers and recently published in the scientific journal. Nature Sustainability .
A study conducted using data collected by satellites
According to the study authors, children and adolescents who live near a natural space such as a forest have Less risk of emotional or behavioral disturbances, take advantage of Better cognitive developmentThey write in a press release published by the specialized site science daily .
To reach this conclusion, researchers studied the health status of 3,568 children and adolescents between the ages of 9 and 15 living in London, UK.
Scientists first tried to determine to what extent these young people benefited, every day, from “exposure”, in some way, to a natural space: a forest, a park … They relied on the data obtained from observations carried out by satellites, and paid attention to the proximity between Participants’ homes or schools and landscaped spaces.
Two years after the study began, researchers studied the mental health status of thousands of children and adolescents who participated in this work. Their observation: The young Britons who are more “exposed”, every day, to wooded areas, the less likely they are to contract disease. Behavioral or emotional disturbances from others.
The differences between the types of natural spaces
The scientists also studied the cognitive development of young participants, using specialized tests, for example, based on memory. Here, too, it is the teens with the most access to the woods and woods with the best scores.
The study authors note that Similar results, albeit lower., observed in adolescents “exposed” to other green spaces such as parks.
This study definitely has its limits. Thus, to account for participants’ “exposure” to a natural space, the scientists were interested in the proximity between their school and home with a natural space. This doesn’t necessarily mean they can get there easily, he notesUKRI, a British government agency specializing in research and innovation, in an article published and on its website.
The Foundation also notes that teenagers from Less fortunate social and economic backgrounds “Could it be? “Unrepresented” among the participants. And that the crime rate in different parts of London was not taken into account.
Another limitation is that researchers are unable to explain exactly how the natural environment affects adolescents’ mental health. “Previous studies have shown benefits between exposure to urban natural spaces, cognitive development and mental health, Michael Maes, a doctoral student at University College London and lead author of the study, explains in a press release. How do we explain these positive effects? He is not clear. Especially in teenagers. “
“Organizer. Social media geek. General communicator. Bacon scholar. Proud pop culture trailblazer.”