New research shows that children who grow up near nature become happier adults
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Being in nature is soothing to the soul. The air is cleaner. The night sky is darker so it's easier to sleep. And there's something calming about being in the natural harmony of the wilderness.

But, on the other hand, it's tough to find a place to get good sushi or an exciting night club.

This begs the age-old question: is it better to live in the city or the country? The answer has always been, "depends on who you ask," but a new study out of Denmark says that being near dense vegetation is clearly better for one's mental health.

A nationwide study of over 900,000 people published in PNAS showed that "children who grew up with the lowest levels of green space had up to 55% higher risk of developing a psychiatric disorder independent from effects of other known risk factors."


The researchers came to this determination after studying robust population data taken by the Danish government.

"If we were talking about a new medicine that had this kind of effect the buzz would be huge," Kelly Lambert, a neuroscientist at the University of Richmond, told NPR.

Igor Menezes Fotógrafo / Flickr

Researchers looked at satellite images of to see how much green space surrounded the areas where the participants grew up.

According to the study, the participants didn't necessarily have to live in a forest to enjoy the mental health benefits, just reside within a reasonable drive from wilderness areas, public parks, and urban green spaces.

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People of higher socioeconomic status tend to live in areas with greater access to parks and have the means to shield their children from some mental disorders. So the researchers factored in income data as well to weigh the relative contribution of green space against socioeconomic backgrounds.

The researchers also found that the results were "dosage dependent." The greater percentage of someone's childhood spent near green spaces, the less the chance of developing mental illness.

Lambert suggests that access to green spaces may be good for our mental health because humans evolved surrounded nature.

While the findings suggest the power that comes from human beings in their natural environment, Kristine Engemann, the biologist who led the study is cautious about saying that access to green spaces causes positive mental health outcomes.

"It's purely correlational, so we can't definitively say that growing up near green space reduces risk of mental illness," Engemann told NPR.

Further research is needed to get to the root causes of how topography affects mental health. But the article makes a great argument for more parks being built in urban areas.

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After years of service as a military nurse in the naval Marine Corps, Los Angeles, California-resident Rhonda Jackson became one of the 37,000 retired veterans in the U.S. who are currently experiencing homelessness — roughly eight percent of the entire homeless population.

"I was living in a one-bedroom apartment with no heat for two years," Jackson said. "The Department of Veterans Affairs was doing everything they could to help but I was not in a good situation."

One day in 2019, Jackson felt a sudden sense of hope for a better living arrangement when she caught wind of the ongoing construction of Veteran's Village in Carson, California — a 51-unit affordable housing development with one, two and three-bedroom apartments and supportive services to residents through a partnership with U.S.VETS.

Her feelings of hope quickly blossomed into a vision for her future when she learned that Veteran's Village was taking applications for residents to move in later that year after construction was complete.

"I was entered into a lottery and I just said to myself, 'Okay, this is going to work out,'" Jackson said. "The next thing I knew, I had won the lottery — in more ways than one."

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We're nearly a year into the pandemic, and what a year it has been. We've gone through the struggles of shutdowns, the trauma of mass death, the seemingly fleeting "We're all in this together" phase, the mind-boggling denial and deluge of misinformation, the constantly frustrating uncertainty, and the ongoing question of when we're going to get to resume some sense of normalcy.

It's been a lot. It's been emotionally and mentally exhausting. And at this point, many of us have hit a wall of pandemic fatigue that's hard to describe. We're just done with all of it, but we know we still have to keep going.

Poet Donna Ashworth has put this "done" feeling into words that are resonating with so many of us. While it seems like we should want to talk to people we love more than ever right now, we've sort of lost the will to socialize pandemically. We're tired of Zoom calls. Getting together masked and socially distanced is doable—we've been doing it—but it sucks. In the wintry north (and recently south) the weather is too crappy to get together outside. So many of us have just gone quiet.

If that sounds like you, you're not alone. As Ashworth wrote:

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Courtesy of Creative Commons
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After years of service as a military nurse in the naval Marine Corps, Los Angeles, California-resident Rhonda Jackson became one of the 37,000 retired veterans in the U.S. who are currently experiencing homelessness — roughly eight percent of the entire homeless population.

"I was living in a one-bedroom apartment with no heat for two years," Jackson said. "The Department of Veterans Affairs was doing everything they could to help but I was not in a good situation."

One day in 2019, Jackson felt a sudden sense of hope for a better living arrangement when she caught wind of the ongoing construction of Veteran's Village in Carson, California — a 51-unit affordable housing development with one, two and three-bedroom apartments and supportive services to residents through a partnership with U.S.VETS.

Her feelings of hope quickly blossomed into a vision for her future when she learned that Veteran's Village was taking applications for residents to move in later that year after construction was complete.

"I was entered into a lottery and I just said to myself, 'Okay, this is going to work out,'" Jackson said. "The next thing I knew, I had won the lottery — in more ways than one."

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I saw this poster today and I was going to just let it go, but then I kept feeling tugged to say something.

Melanie Cholish/Facebook

While this poster is great to bring attention to the issue of child trafficking, it is a "shocking" picture of a young girl tied up. It has that dark gritty feeling. I picture her in a basement tied to a dripping pipe.

While that sounds awful, it's important to know that trafficking children in the US is not all of that. I can't say it never is—I don't know. What I do know is most young trafficked children aren't sitting in a basement tied up. They have families, and someone—usually in their family—is trafficking them.

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via Walt Disney Television / Flickr and jilhervas / Flickr

There comes a moment in everyone's social media life when they get stressed because they've been followed by an authority figure. When your boss, mother, or priest starts following you, social media immediately becomes a lot less fun.

When that happens, it's time to stop posting photos of yourself partying it up with an adult beverage. You gotta hold back on some of your saltier takes, and you have to start minding your language. Also, you have to be very careful about the posts you're tagged in.

Model, TV personality, and author Chrissy Teigen has been suffering through a mega-dose of this form of social media stress since January 20 when President Joe Biden followed her on Twitter. His follow came after Teigen made the request.

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