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Those without personal outdoor space and from deprived areas “more likely” to suffer from poor mental health, study reveals

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People who do not have access to personal outdoor space are more likely to suffer from a mental health disorder, a major study has revealed.

The research, published in collaboration with the Aberdeen University and the University of the Highlands and Islands (UHI), comes after much of the nation was forced to stay inside flats and properties without personal outdoor space.

To carry out the study, almost 3,000 adults were surveyed about their home environment, as well as their mental health, between June and July last year.

It was revealed that participants who had to share outdoor space were more likely to report a mental health condition compared to those with their own personal outdoor space, such as a garden or patio.

It means that those from deprived areas, where personal outdoor space is far less common, will be impacted greater compared to those from more affluent areas.

Commenting on the study, lead author and Professor of Health Services Research at the University of the Highlands and Islands, Gill Hubbard, 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 at home.”

The research comes after the launch of the NHS Mental Health Recovery Action Plan. Under the plans, additional mental health therapists will be trained and deployed to support people in need, while the NHS talking therapies service – which offers confidential treatment of conditions such as anxiety, depression, and PTSD – will be expanded to support over 1.6 million by 2021/22.

The latest figures suggest that around one in four people in the UK experience a mental health problem each year, with the most common illnesses being anxiety and depression.