How can parks impact your mental health?

Just this week, new research findings show that 37% of Canadians have experienced a decline in their mental health over the past two years.

Research shows that spending time in nature, as little as ten minutes, can have a significant impact on your mental health. It can lower blood pressure and anxiety while increasing tranquility and overall mood. Experts believe spending time in nature, whether passive or active, activates the same networks of the brain as mindfulness and meditation.

So how do we get Calgarians outside, especially in ways that will benefit their mental health? For the Parks Foundation, the answer is building Calgary’s first ever mental health park  – The Brawn Family Foundation Rotary Park. 

According to a recent study by the Canadian Mental Health Association, the most common coping strategy for those negatively impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic was going for a walk or exercising outside. 

Research continues to show that parks aren’t just beautification to our city’s landscape but an essential component of Calgarians’ mental health. The Brawn Family Foundation Rotary Park will not only impact thousands of Calgarians each year, but act as inspiration for similar projects across Canada.

The Brawn Family Foundation Rotary Park will be Alberta’s first park space dedicated to mental health. Located adjacent to the soon-to-be-built Calgary Centre for Child and Adolescent Mental Health, this park will be a place for the centre’s users and the public to visit, reflect and reap the mental health benefits of the park’s many features.

The design of the Brawn Family Foundation Rotary Park will feature elements proven to support mental health. Some of the elements in the most recent design include a pavilion, labyrinth, climbing boulder, hammock area, swing benches and garden spaces.

These park elements are designed to encourage both passive and active time in nature and to meet the needs and interests of a wide arrange of visitors.

Unique outdoor spaces that support mental health are more important than ever before. There is a mental health crisis happening in Canada and parks are part of the solution.

Below are some interesting research articles relating to parks and mental health that we wanted to share with you.

https://www.nrpa.org/our-work/Three-Pillars/health-wellness/ParksandHealth/fact-sheets/parks-improved-mental-health-quality-life/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4049158/

https://www.azuremagazine.com/article/its-time-to-design-city-parks-as-mental-health-infrastructure-for-everyone/

https://cmha.ca/wp-content/uploads/2022/02/Key-findings-summary-UBC-round-4-Final.pdf