Mental health and green therapy.

Mental health awareness is on a rise within our communities. More and more people open about their struggles with depression. A huge part of these discussions is the affirmation of normalcy in seeking help from certified therapists and other medical practitioners. This new development can make a huge difference in how one pushes through life.

In a complex, often “trying-to-kill-you” city like Lagos, it is crucial to maintain a healthy mental space. To acquire this crucial mental energy, we need adequate infrastructure and trouble-free spaces. Well-maintained roads that don’t give you a migraine from all the bumps would be a great start. So would steady electricity, as well as intentionally designed, accessible open spaces; especially open green spaces.

Multiple studies show that living near and spending time in green spaces has positive long-term mental health benefits to humans. Exercising, strolling, and relaxing in parks and gardens is linked to lower levels of stress and depression, which can increase your chances of being happy. Some studies even suggest that less access to nature worsens ADHD symptoms.

Not convinced? Here are some quick facts from the National recreation and Park Association (NRPA):

  • People living 1 km or more, away from a green space are 50% more likely to experience stress than those who live 300 m away.
  • Some evidence suggests that physical activity in green spaces has better mental health benefits compared to physical activity in non-green spaces.
  • People reported less mental distress and higher life satisfaction when they were living in greener areas.
  • Use of green spaces is linked with less health complaints, improved blood pressure & cholesterol levels, reduced stress. It is also linked to general improvement in problem solving abilities.

Having individuals that are mentally healthy is not only great for the individual but also for companies and the economy of cities– happy people equal productive employees. So, which way Lagos? Perhaps in a future article, we’ll breakdown innovative small and big interventions that can change the landscape of this wild city.