Mental health is a critical public health issue in the UK and internationally. There is evidence that access, exposure and proximity to green and blue spaces, such as parks, woodlands, rivers and beaches, may promote positive mental health and wellbeing.
Yet the pathways leading to these effects are not yet fully understood, particularly at the individual level. To develop policies aimed at improving access and exposure to green-blue spaces, we need this depth of understanding, providing better and more robust evidence.
This research is using using record-linked data from the National Survey for Wales and the NHS via the ‘Secure Anonymised Information Linkage’ (SAIL), alongside innovative green-blue space exposure metrics, for approximately 12,000 people in Wales.
This will allow researchers to conduct a detailed exploration of associations between individual-level use of (and exposure to) green-blue space, well-being and mental health.
This forms part of a broader project which involves anonymously linking the health records of over two million people in Wales with data on their neighbourhood environments over 11 years. It involves input from the public, planning and policy, the Welsh Government, Natural Resources Wales, Welsh Local Authorities and Keep Tidy Wales, and will inform governmental policy in Wales and beyond.
The project’s full title is Green-blue space exposure changes and impact on individual-level wellbeing and mental health: a population-wide record-linked natural experiment.
It is funded by the National Institute for Health Research and is led by researchers at University of Liverpool and Swansea University.