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We know that placemaking is important to communities but what many people may not realise is how important  good placemaking is to mental health. With World Mental Health Day this week, now is the time to understand why green spaces matter and how they benefit people’s mental health. Green spaces encourage people to use the facilities around them so people living in communities with ample green spaces, tend to get out more and enjoy community life. For people who may be struggling with stress, anxiety or mental health issues the opportunity to sit outside or go for a walk does a lot of good. Well-being can be greatly improved after some fresh air and access to nice green areas is a simple but important factor of placemaking. 

Furthermore, good placemaking encourages people to exercise more and therefore, they have can have better physical health too. People generally feel a lot healthier if they live near walkways, green spaces, canals or by the sea. Nice outside spaces offer an opportunity for rest, relaxation and time to de-stress after a hectic day. Families enjoy getting outside to play or walk/cycle and this benefits family life greatly too. 

Green spaces can help your community by: 

  • Boosting community relationships as once people have places to enjoy, they will gather around and it helps community spirit. 
  • Improving community events and neighbourhood activities as people come together when they have nice spaces to enjoy.
  • Improving health by having access to good areas that are inviting and relaxing. It gives locals time to relax, watch their kids play and for everyone to get physical exercise in. 

When planners and developers are considering new developments they need to consider the impact green spaces have on communities. While selling apartments or homes is important there is another vital component and that’s people. People need to have, not only the home but the areas around to support them in their lives. Water features, green gardens, walkable pavements and large green play areas all play a vital role in encouraging community engagement and it is the forefront of placemaking. In cities, planners invest in balancing residential, commercial and retail spaces while considering the areas around them and homes should be no different. Nicer areas will reduce the chances of criminal activity as once they are well-kept and brightly lit, there are less opportunities to cause problems. Of course, this doesn’t mean it won’t happen but communities that spend time together and engage with each other usually can come together to tackle those issues. 

Something to think about when you are considering moving to a new home – does the area offer nice green spaces or local walkways/trails that can be enjoyed and benefit your physical and mental health?