Urbanization has long been associated with increased levels of mental illness. However, Stanford University recently found accessible, natural areas may be the key to helping sustain positive mental health for the 50 percent of the U.S. population now living in urban areas.
The study discovered a 90-minute walk in a natural area decreased rumination – repetitive thought focused on negative aspects of the self, a risk factor for mental illness. A walk in an urban area had no such decreasing effect.
Though urbanization has many benefits, fostering and protecting natural areas is a critical resource for supporting mental health.