Pakistan is facing numerous environmental challenges that pose serious threats to raising coming generations of Pakistanis adequate physical and sound mental health. Besides running seriously short of water, we are also bent upon eating up the little green spaces we are left with. And that is especially true in urban areas of the country, which are losing acres of greenery, trees and plantation to mushrooming housing and concrete structures.
This rapid diminishing of our green spaces might have drastic results for the health of our people, especially the younger lot, as a new study points out. Per a new research, growing up in greener areas with more trees in the surroundings can have a positive impact on human health on both physical and psychological levels.
The recent study was conducted by Aarhus University Denmark to understand the impact of growing up in greener areas. The findings of the study suggest people who grew up closer to nature were less likely to develop mental health issues, compared to those who had less exposure to green spaces.
The researchers – postdoctoral researcher Kristine Engemann and her colleagues – found a link between growing up in greener spaces and sound mental health and wellbeing during adulthood. The findings of the study were published in PNAS.
They used satellite data over a period of time, mainly from 1985 to 2013 to detect green spaces that were in close proximity to childhood homes of almost 900,000 Danes. The results were then associated with the risk of the target population of developing any one out of the 16 leading mental health concerns throughout adulthood.
The findings indicated that people who grew up in greener areas or spaces had 55 percent fewer chances of developing mental health issues than those who did not. The results remained the same even after the researchers made adjustments in various modifying factors such as family history of mental health issues, socioeconomic status and migration from rural to urban localities.
The researchers have urged local authorities to pay more attention to environmental concerns and make more arrangements for developing green areas in cities. “There is increasing evidence that the natural environment plays a larger role for mental health than previously thought,” Engemann said. “Our study is important in giving us a better understanding of its importance across the broader population,” she added.
With a clear link now established between proximity to nature and mental health, the notion that a healthy environment helps unwind and improve mental state has been backed by empirical evidence.
But will somebody in Pakistan care to heed?