London: Living close to the sea could support better mental health in England's poorest urban communities, a new study suggests. The study, published in the journal Health & Place revealed that living in large towns and cities near to England's coastline is linked with better mental health for those in the lowest earning households.
"Our research suggests, for the first time, that people in poorer households living close to the coast experience fewer symptoms of mental health disorders," said study lead author Jo Garrett from University of Exeter in the UK.
"When it comes to mental health, this 'protective' zone could play a useful role in helping to level the playing field between those on high and low income," she said. Researchers used survey data from nearly 26,000 respondents in their analysis, which marks one of the most detailed investigations ever into the wellbeing effects of being beside the sea.
The research used data from the Health Survey for England and compared people's health to their proximity to the coast; from those living less than one km away, to those more than 50 km away. Its findings add to the growing evidence that access to blue spaces - particularly coastal environments - might improve health and wellbeing.
Approximately one in six adults in England suffer from mental health disorders such as anxiety and depression, and these are far more likely in people from poorer backgrounds. The findings suggest that access to the coast could help to reduce these health inequalities in towns and cities close to the sea.