A new study correlates increased numbers of street trees to reduced antidepressant prescriptions, emphasizing the positive role even the smallest and simplest amounts of urban greenspace can play in our mental health.
Experts from Germany’s Leipzig University and the German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research analyzed health data from almost 10,000 inhabitants of the mid-size city of Leipzig. By combining that data with the number and species types of street trees throughout the city, the researchers were able to identify the association between antidepressant prescriptions and the number of street trees at different distances from people’s homes.
Even after controlling for other factors known to be associated with depression—such as employment, gender, age, and weight—the researchers found that, the more trees that were immediately around homes and apartments (closer than about 300 feet), the less likely the residents were to take antidepressants.
“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 lead author Dr. Melissa Marselle.
“Our study shows that everyday nature close to home—the biodiversity you see out of the window or when walking or driving to work, school, or shopping—is important for mental health,” added study researcher Dr. Diana Bowler, noting that these mental health findings are especially important now in times of pandemic stay-at-home needs.
Landscape architects licensed by the Department of Consumer Affairs’ Landscape Architects Technical Committee are trained, educated, and dedicated to implementing a wide variety of green spaces into our communities—and our lives. Find out more about their services at www.latc.ca.gov. For assistance with tree pruning and upkeep, contact a tree service contractor licensed by the Contractors State License Board. If you are concerned that you may be experiencing depression, reach out for professional help: Licensees of the Department of Consumer Affairs’ Board of Psychology and Board of Behavioral Sciences can assist, as can specialists of the Medical Board of California and the Osteopathic Medical Board of California. Check a professional’s license at https://search.dca.ca.gov.