Exposure to blue space helps reduce distress: Study

Exposure to blue space helps reduce distress: Study

Most of us might have gone through this experience or seen around us that a person gets a lot of attention and sympathy when one of his bones gets fractured. Mum pampers him, friends cheer him up and his relatives make frequent calls to show that they care. But what happens when you relapse after a prolonged mental health condition? Usually, no sufferer gets a similar treatment as in the first case.

The stigma attached to mental illnesses, prevents people from sympathizing with the patients. This acts as a major barrier in the recovery process. But brain is also a part of the body and has a much more important role to play.

Various studies have focused on the positive impact of serene natural surroundings on the mental health of a person. Unconventional treatment methods, such as ecotherapy, which focus on outdoor immersion of a patient with depressive disorder, have caught the fascination of mental health experts.

A recent study by the University of Canterbury, New Zealand, and the Michigan State University, U.S., published in the journal Health & Place in April 2016, explored the impact of exposure to nature, such as looking at the sea or ocean, on mentally distressed people.

Blue space beneficial for mental health

As part of the study, the researchers observed 450 adults with mental illness in Wellington City, New Zealand. The blue space encompassed the Tasman Sea and the Pacific Ocean, while the green space comprised grassy parks forests. It was found that the blue space, which is all natural with no human intervention, was more beneficial for the mental health of the participants, as opposed to the green, which included grassy fields (man-made) and forests. Factors such as participants’ gender, age and financial status were taken into consideration for the study.

The team concluded that increased exposure to the blue space was linked with decreased levels of psychological distress; however, it was not true for the green space.

Amber L. Pearson, co-author of the study, pointed out that the study did not segregate different types of green space, and thus, results could vary if only native forests were taken into consideration. However, further research needed to be done to establish if blue space can have the same positive impact on mental well-being of people living in other cities.

“Just because a place is green does not compel us to feel better on its own. It seems to be that the beauty of the environment, as measured by scenicness, is of crucial importance,” the researchers said.

Road ahead

It would not be wrong to say that depression is one of the most underestimated illnesses today. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), nearly 15 percent of women aged between 15 and 44 years filled a prescription for antidepressants. With so much neglect existing around depression, no wonder it is the second leading cause of disability worldwide.

According to the State of Mental Health in America 2016 report by the Mental Health America (MHA), an estimated 42.5 million Americans experienced some form of mental health issue in 2015 and approximately one in five adults in the U.S. (or 43.8 million) experiences mental illness in a given year.

It is necessary to understand that people suffering from mental illness must not refrain from seeking professional advice fearing the stigma around it. If you or your loved one is suffering from any mental problem, it is necessary that you get in touch with the Mental Health Helpline in Florida for the information on best rehab centers in Florida. You may call at our 24/7 helpline at 866-846-5588 or chat online with our experts for further information on mental disorder treatment in Florida.