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How Can Green Roofs Help To Improve Mental Health?

May 18th, 2020

Mental Health Awareness Week starts today! We would like to use this opportunity to shout about it and help get the nation talking about kindness, mental health and ways to improve wellbeing.

Mental Health Awareness Week is the UK’s national week to raise awareness of mental health and mental health problems and inspire action to promote the message of good mental health for all. 

The focus on kindness is a response to the coronavirus outbreak, which is having a big impact on people’s mental health.

“Some people have mental health conditions like depression or anxiety, which means they have feelings that won’t go away and which start to really affect day-to-day life.”

Mental Health Statistics: UK and Worldwide

With a recent study by the UK Mental Health Foundation highlighting just how serious a problem this is becoming, finding an effective method of combatting this has never been more important.

  • mental health is the main cause of overall disease burden and the primary cause of disability globally, resulting in more than 40m person-years of disability annually in 20–29-year-olds per year around the world
  • 1 in 6 people in the UK experiences a common mental health problem every week
  • anxiety and depression is the cause of 20% of days lost from work each year in the UK.

However, despite our increasingly urbanised, high-density and the high-pressure world, there is growing evidence that a proven way to help reduce stress levels and improve mental health may be available to us in the form of green roofs.

Losing contact with the outdoors

Losing contact with the outdoors has, therefore, become commonplace over the last century as a result of living in modern spaces. Spending more time indoors, being glued to screens and sedentary lifestyles have contributed to this disengagement with nature.

As of 2018, 55 per cent of the global population was inhabiting urban spaces across the world, according to a report by the U.N. Department of Economic and Social Affairs. Projections for the year 2050 estimated that 2.5 billion people in the world or 68 per cent of the world’s population will occupy urban areas.

While natural spaces continue to decrease within cities, there is an urgent need to address the impact of losing contact with nature on mental health. In a reflective piece for The Conversation, Dr Zoe Myers, author of “Wildness and Wellbeing: Nature, Neuroscience, and Urban Design,” suggested building greener neighbourhoods through constructing small biodiverse patches, as opposed to long green corridors with logistical challenges.

“If the evidence shows that nature contact helps to buffer against negative impacts from other environmental predictors of health, then access to these landscapes can be considered a matter of environmental justice,” Greg Bratman, lead author of a study published in the journal of Science Advances in 2019, said.

For more on this story, please click here to visit the Medical Daily website.

How can green roofs help?

It has been widely accepted for some time now that the addition of a natural landscape to an urban area can lift moods and make us generally feel better.

There is increasing evidence that visual and physical contact with natural greenery provides a range of benefits to people. These include both mental health benefits (such as reduction of stress) and physical health benefits (including cleaner air). Access to green space can bring about direct improvements in a person’s heart rate and blood pressure and can aid general well-being.

For more on this, please click here.

For more on the M-Tray®, Wallbarn’s unique modular green roof, please click here.