Mental Health Awareness Week: IV

The Importance Of Play

As we continue exploring ways to help promote Mental Health Awareness Week today our focus is on how green spaces can help young minds.

Mental health is important at all ages and many studies show having access to residential green spaces in childhood links directly to a lower risk of mental health challenges when moving into adolescence and adulthood.

Research in Denmark, whose findings were published last year, highlighted green spaces promote mental health by supporting psychological restoration, encouraging exercise, improving social coherence, decreasing noise and air pollution affecting cognition and brain development and even improving immune functioning.

The results of the nationwide study, which involved more than 900,000 people, have led to call for strategies and urban planning that better integrate natural environments into childhood life.

At Greenbelt we place great emphasis on providing natural environments where youngsters and families can come together to enjoy the positive power of exercising and relaxing in the great outdoors.

This is also why safe and well-designed play parks are often an important element in many developments and why – when the all-important restrictions of COVID-19 are lifted – they will once again become vital social hubs.

Around the age of three children begin to more fully interact during play and become more imaginative, so having a place to do this is so important. The presence of a play area means they have somewhere to forge friendships and build confidence.

Of course, it’s not just the young ones who benefit from these communal facilities. For parents and carers it is great to have a place to come together in an informal way.

For full-time carers, enjoying conversation and time out can contribute to a feeling of mental and emotional wellbeing. Play parks are the venue for hundreds of little interactions that can essentially bring an entire community together.

Sadly, many play areas around the country have become no-go areas for younger kids. Anti-social behaviour such as vandalism, littering and dog fouling can rob them of enjoying these vital spaces.

At Greenbelt we understand the importance of maintaining these important facilities for our youngest residents.

We carry out regular inspections to ensure play equipment is in tip top condition.

We work to ensure there’s always a place for children to play, because for them that’s first, second and third on their list of priorities.

Working together we can ensure play areas are enjoyed by youngsters for many years to come – and act as safe havens for helping to safeguard and boost their mental health.

Find out more about becoming involved with the Mental Health Foundation’s event this year here.

There’s also a fun animation on why kindness is at the heart of this year’s message.