Under the Hood

Study Finds Living Near Beach Improves Mental Health, Prevents Disorders

A 2018 report showed that mental disorders continued to increase in every country. By 2030, the global population is expected to lose 12 billion working days every year due to mental illness.

But researchers found a way to prevent the issue and help people in any country to improve their mental health. A new study shows that living near the ocean could help reduce the risk of anxiety and depression.

The findings come from the analysis of data on nearly 26,000 people who live near the beach in the United Kingdom. Researchers from the University of Exeter collected data from the Health Survey for England, which covered the mental health, well-being, income and residential areas of men and women. 

Researchers said the people who reside less than 1 kilometer from the sea had a 22 percent lower risk of mental health disorders. However, lower-income residents experienced greater benefits.

Poorer residents living near the ocean appeared 40 percent less likely to develop mental disorders. The researchers said other “blue spaces,” such as rivers and lakes, also helped provide better psychological health to residents.

“This kind of research into blue health is vital to convincing governments to protect, create and encourage the use of coastal spaces,” Mathew White, study author and environmental psychologist at the University of Exeter, said. “We need to help policy makers understand how to maximize the well-being benefits of ‘blue’ spaces in towns and cities and ensure that access is fair and inclusive for everyone, while not damaging our fragile coastal environments.”

It is not the first time aquatic environments were linked to improved health. Earlier studies showed that living in areas near bodies of water could help reduce psychological distress, boost physical activity and lower mortality rates, MarketWatch reported Tuesday

In the latest National Health and Well-Being Index of Gallup, Hawaiian islands ranked first for the seventh year in a row as people reported the highest scores in the U.S. 

WalletHub also named Hawaii as the happiest state in its recent report on emotional and physical well-being across the country. Another report to support the benefits of living in blue space comes from the United Nations.

The recent UN World Happiness paper named Finland as the country with the happiest citizens. Denmark, Norway, Iceland, the Netherlands, Switzerland, Sweden, New Zealand, Canada and Austria also topped the list. 

Majority of the said countries, except Switzerland and Austria, are surrounded by water. 

beach A new study shows that living near the ocean could help reduce the risk of anxiety and depression. Pixabay