New research suggests that people who live close to the ocean or sea are happier. Researchers from the University of Exeter in the UK say people who live in coastal areas have better mental health than people who live inland. This is for rich people and poor people. The researchers looked at data from surveys of 25,963 people. The surveys asked people questions about their happiness, lifestyle and income. They found that those who live within one kilometer of the coast are 22 per cent less likely to show any signs of mental health problems. People who lived more than 50 kilometers from the coast had more symptoms of mental health problems. The researchers found that poorer people living within sight of the coast were around 40 per cent less likely to have mental health symptoms than those who lived inland.
Lead researcher of the study, doctor Jo Garrett, said: "Our research suggests, for the first time, that people in poorer households living close to the coast experience fewer symptoms of mental health disorders." She said the area along coasts seemed to protect people from experiencing mental health problems. They seemed to improve people's health and wellbeing. Dr Garrett added: "When it comes to mental health, this protective zone could play a useful role in helping to level the playing field between those on high and low incomes." Another researcher, Dr Mathew White, said: "We need to help policy makers understand how to maximize the wellbeing benefits of 'blue' spaces in towns and cities. We need to ensure that access is fair and inclusive for everyone, while not damaging our fragile coastal environments."