Project podcast | Coastal living linked with better mental health

Project podcast | Coastal living linked with better mental health


You’re with BBC Radio Kent thank you for
your company and for your beautiful calls about living by the sea I’ll
introduce you to Jo Garrett, Dr Garrett is a postdoctoral research associate in
coastal environments and human wellbeing at the University of Exeter and she led
the study that we’ve been talking about this morning. Jo I’m so glad we’ve got
you on good morning thank you very much for giving us something so magical to
talk about this morning good morning thank you for having me. Tell us
what you wanted to explore in this piece of research, so my colleagues here at
the European Centre for Environment and Human Health in at the University of
Exeter had previously found that people tend to be healthier living closer to
the coast and this was strongest for those living in the most deprived areas
and we know how important mental health is one in six people are suffering from
a mental health disorder at any one time in this country so we therefore wanted to
explore this research and see if the case had the same relationship with
mental health. Anecdotally we’re hearing yes yes yes this morning but we can only
do it anecdotally you’ve done it with robust evidence you’ve documented
it you’ve looked at you know that all the information’s in there about how you
did the study the sample group about self reporting and so on breakdown in
the simplest terms what do you think you can demonstrate about living close to
the sea and the impact it has on our mental health and well-being? Yes as you say we had a large robust sample we had 26,000 people living in
towns and cities in England and we compared the mental health scores of
people living at different distances from the coast and we found that those
with the least disposable income had better mental health within five
kilometers from the coast compared to those on the same incomes living inland
whilst for those with high incomes mental health was not related to how
close they lived to the coast. Okay so the closest link is for people on
lower incomes the proximity to the sea has the biggest is most significant
in that group is that fair to say yeah what is the application of this
research what can what could environmental organisations and local
authorities and individuals do with this information?
Yeah as you say I mean there’s been previous anecdotal evidence that the
coast is good for our health but now we’re building up the evidence base
that says actually yes we can this has population level effects and
for me it really highlights how important having access to nature close
by to your home is so for me and local authorities and governments and planners
hopefully they can encourage having access to nature near to where
people live I know we’ve got the coast path the south west coast
path down here in the southwest and for me that’s just such a wonderful
facility so easy to access the coast and I hear in Kent yours are nearly
completed. They’ve really cracked on with it recently yeah yeah
would you come and try ours out or you obviously love the coast path down
your part of the south coast would you come and try ours out at some point? Yes I would love to it’s quite far from Cornwall though. It is quite far you’re not kidding is this a part of putting aside the
research and your work for a moment is this something that’s a part of your
personal life as well that the coast and it sounds like it is that this matters
to you what does it do for you being near the sea? Yeah absolutely yeah I mean
I live in Cornwall and as I said we have the coast path and then I try and get
out for a walk at the weekend whenever I can and even if you’re feeling stressed
or you’re not sure if you want to get outside once I’m actually out there once
I’m actually on the case you know you feel yourself feeling calmer and
de-stressing for me personally anyway. Yeah so you’re Truro which I know quite well I used to study
in Falmouth where do you head where’s the
the nearest best bit of beach or coastal walk for you from where you live? Oh
that’s a really tricky one the north coast of Cornwall is pretty stunning and
lots of hilly walks and where I actually live in Falmouth yeah and Falmouth
is a gorgeous place with their coast as well as rivers and beautiful scenery. It was interesting what John was just saying to us he’s you know lived and
worked on the sea all his life and if he has to go inland he sort of finds
himself a river do you think that’s that that sometimes there’s other blue
spaces you know lakes and rivers can have the same impact or do you think it
has to be the sea I think well we’re actually looking at this right now I’m
working on a project called BlueHealth which is a pan-European
research project and we are looking at exactly this basically and we’re looking
at different types of blue spaces and we’re looking at the different effects
that people report when they visit each one and especially in other
countries where they might not have such great access to the sea, lakes and
rivers might become even more important and yeah it will be really
interesting to find out if these are having the same effects. So that’s the
next level of this research is to look at other blue spaces as well excellent
we look forward to finding out whether the rivers and lakes can do it for us in
the same way as the seas great to talk to you thank you so much Jo really nice
to have you on the program thank you very much Dr Jo Garrett
postdoctoral research assistant in associate I beg your pardon
in coastal environments and human wellbeing at the University of Exeter
and we’re talking about that this morning the coast and our well being and
I’d love to keep going

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