A new report by the MRC/CSO Social and Public Health Sciences Unit at the University of Glasgow has shown there were sharp inequalities in visiting green and open space in spring 2021, preventing some people from experiencing the mental health benefits associated with use of outdoor space. 

The study found that over two thirds of adults (67%) had visited a green or open space during the previous four weeks. However, only 59% of those classified as low socio-economic status visited compared to 73% from a high socio-economic status.

The report was published on behalf of the Public Health Scotland (PHS) Social & Systems Recovery (S&SR) Environment & Spaces Group, which brings together Scottish Government, local authorities, the NHS, the third sector and other professionals involved in environment and planning policy implementation. It covers the continued influence that COVID-19 has on use of green and open space, including variation by age, sex, socio-economic status and ethnicity. Recommendations for actions to support future decision making, with a focus on priorities for pandemic recovery are included in the report.

Ali Macdonald, Organisational Lead for Healthy, Active Environments at PHS, said:

 “Almost nine out of ten of the people who participated in the research told us that being in green and open spaces benefitted their mental health. It is vital that we consider how we provide neighbourhood greenspace, as alternative approaches may have different impacts on health and wellbeing and inequality. These approaches might include: new parks and parklets, re-purposing of derelict and under-used land, green travel corridors and greening streets initiatives.

“The report has valuable and useful information for those involved in local decision making about how greenspace can be incorporated into developments to improve local environments and community wellbeing”.

Read the COVID-19 green and open space use in spring 2021 (Wave 3) report (external link)

Last updated: 06 October 2022