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GPs should tell patients to take a walk in the park, says report

1 July 2010

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A new report calls for GPs to use more alternatives to medication for mental illness, including giving patients advice to spend time and exercise in green spaces.

The report, published today (1 July 2010) by the Faculty of Public Health (FPH), says green spaces may be as effective as prescription drugs for treating mild to moderate forms of depression and anxiety.

While anti-depressants are generally most effective for the severely depressed, the report suggests that people with milder forms of depression generally improve with access to green space and open air.

It also claims that living and working close to green spaces and being able to enjoy them safely can reduce crime and increase productivity in the workplace. Furthermore, easy access to parks and natural areas is shown to decrease health inequalities, says the report.

Professor Alan Maryon-Davis, FPH President, said: “We in the medical community should consider using the natural environment as a great resource for improving people’s mental wellbeing.”

Faculty of Public Health