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Research: “Greenness in the neighborhood creates psychological peace”

The proximity to green spaces and sociability with neighbors are good for the mental well-being of the residents of Brussels. On the other hand, air pollution and traffic congestion often cause a lot of mental disorders. This is evidenced by a study conducted on Monday, led by researchers from the University of Antwerp, into the link between the mental health of Brussels residents and their place of residence.

What is the impact of the Brussels living environment (air and noise pollution, built and natural environments) on the mental health of Brussels residents? Scientists from the University of Antwerp and Chinesano and the Institute of Nature and Forestry Research, among others, have begun work on solving this question. For the NAMED (Nature’s Impact on Mental Health Distribution) project, they combined a large-scale survey of Brussels residents with walk-in interviews to collect different perceptions of the living environment and quality of life.

The striking result is the importance of good neighborliness. “People who feel part of the community, and who have mutual understanding and support, feel better about themselves,” researcher Laura Lauwers says. In addition, the traffic is a crucial factor. Traffic insecurity, poor air quality and noise pollution are the annoying elements with a negative impact.

On the other hand, natural environments with a lot of green or blue provide the opportunity to escape from the hustle and bustle of the city for a while. Interviews show that the people of Brussels attach great importance to this. “Green spaces create mental space. Little green or blue spots, like a flower bed or a fountain, really have a positive effect,” says Lawers.

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The researchers are clear in their recommendations: involve citizens in urban planning, give priority to less affluent neighborhoods and above all ensure safety. “Government should invest in additional ‘blue and green’ infrastructure, while making room for water and nature. But in addition to the importance of large green spaces, a small safe or social green space such as a live compost near someone’s home also has a positive impact,” according to the researchers. .