A new study has found that living by the sea makes you happier than those living inland. Researchers from the University of Exeter used data from 25,963 respondents to a survey to calculate that if people lived within 1 kilometer of the sea, they were less likely to suffer mental health problems for those in the lowest income brackets.
Mental illnesses such as depression and anxiety are more common among low income families and approximately one in six people in the UK are affected by mental health problems.
The survey used data from the Health Survey for England and compared people’s mental health to their proximity to the sea – for those living closer than 1km to the sea and those living more than 50km away.
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Dr Jo Garrett led the study and believes the results could have important implications, she said: “Our research suggests, for the first time, that people in poorer households living close to the coast experience fewer symptoms of mental health disorders. 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.”
Dr Mathew White, environmental psychologist at the University of Exeter, said: “This kind of research into blue health is vital to convincing governments to protect, create and encourage the use of coastal spaces. We need to help policy makers understand how to maximise the wellbeing benefits of ‘blue’ spaces in towns and cities and ensure that access is fair and inclusive for everyone, while not damaging our fragile coastal environments.”
The full paper, Coastal proximity and mental health among urban adults in England: The moderating effect of household income, is available here
The volume of people surveyed makes it one of the largest surveys of its type.