You’ve likely already heard about the benefits of spending time in nature. But now, research is showing that even passing exposure—like a few trees in your yard—could improve your mental health.
According to a study in Germany, when people lived close to trees, their overall mental health improved, and their need for antidepressants declined.
Researchers looked at 10,000 residents in Leipzig, Germany, and the rate at which antidepressants were prescribed to them in relation to how close trees were planted to their homes. Along with the number of trees, the study also considered the age, employment, gender, and weight of each participant.
Those who lived within 109 yards (100 meters) of trees—whether they were in their yard or near the street—showed a reduced rate of antidepressant prescriptions. The rate was particularly reduced in poor and marginalized neighborhoods. These results have led researchers to believe that green spaces can have a strong effect on mental health, even if you don’t take a daily stroll outside.
“Our finding suggests that street trees—a small scale, publicly accessible form of urban greenspace—can help close the gap in health inequalities between economically different social groups,” said Dr. Melissa Marselle, the lead author of the study. “This is good news because street trees are relatively easy to achieve and their number can be increased without much planning effort.”