Does Access to Green Space Impact the Mental Well-being of Children: A Systematic Review

J Pediatr Nurs. 2017 Nov-Dec:37:3-7. doi: 10.1016/j.pedn.2017.08.027. Epub 2017 Sep 4.


Problem: An increasing body of research is showing associations between green space and overall health. Children are spending more time indoors while pediatric mental and behavioral health problems are increasing. A systematic review of the literature was done to examine the association between access to green space and the mental well-being of children.

Eligibility criteria: Articles were limited to English language, ages 0-18 years, and publish date 2012-2017.

Sample: The search yielded 341 articles in Ovid, 81 in Pub Med and 123 in Scopus. Articles that were not original research and that were not a pediatric population were excluded. Twelve articles fit the selection criteria.

Results: Twelve articles relating to green space and the mental well-being of children were reviewed. Three articles outside the date criteria were included as they are cited often in the literature as important early research on this topic.

Conclusions: Access to green space was associated with improved mental well-being, overall health and cognitive development of children. It promotes attention restoration, memory, competence, supportive social groups, self-discipline, moderates stress, improves behaviors and symptoms of ADHD and was even associated with higher standardized test scores.

Implications: Scientific evidence demonstrating the mental health benefits of access to nature for children can guide policy and urban planning, while nursing interventions and initiatives can enhance health by promoting outdoor play, educating patients and families, advocating for recess times and green environments at school as well as healing gardens in hospital settings.

Keywords: Access; Children; Green space; Mental health; Stress.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Child
  • Child Welfare
  • Environment Design*
  • Environment*
  • Female
  • Health Promotion
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mental Health*
  • Schools / organization & administration
  • Students / psychology