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Positive role of patios and gardens in coronavirus lockdown revealed by mental health research by north universities


By Hector MacKenzie

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Professor Gill Hubbard.
Professor Gill Hubbard.

RESEARCHERS from north universities have confirmed the importance of access to your own outdoor space in coping with the challenges of the pandemic.

In a survey of 2969 adults from across Scotland, health experts from the University of the Highlands and Islands (UHI) and the University of Aberdeen found that people without patios and gardens experienced greater mental health challenges during the pandemic than those who have access to their own outdoor space.

The study also revealed that people who had to share outdoor space, and who live in deprived areas also experienced great mental health challenges.

The project findings have been published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health.

Gill Hubbard, professor of health services research at the UHI, and lead author of the paper, said: “Our findings show that people who had their own personal outdoor space, such as a garden or patio, had better mental health during the pandemic than people who had no outside space or who had to share their outdoor space.

“The study also shows that people living in affluent areas had better mental health than those in deprived areas. Taken together, this shows that the effects of this pandemic are worse for people who do not live in homes with accessible gardens.”

The study found that having access to a garden brought real mental health benefits agaunst the challange of the Covid-19 pandemic.
The study found that having access to a garden brought real mental health benefits agaunst the challange of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Among the study’s other findings, it revealed that people who believed they were at greater risk of getting Covid-19, and that they would be very ill if they became infected, were more distressed than people who did not think they were at high risk from the virus. This link between risk beliefs and psychological distress, was found to be much worse among people who did not have their own garden or patio.

Diane Dixon, professor of psychology at the University of Aberdeen, said: “The research team is currently investigating whether there is also a link between where people live, their risk beliefs and whether they will get the Covid-19 vaccine. We will present this evidence to government to support national efforts to keep people safe and also protect their mental health during this and potentially future pandemics.”


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