Giving Compass' Take:

• An expansive new study shows the potential connection between exposure to nature and green spaces in childhood can lead to better mental health in adults. 

• How can educators and parents facilitate the development of an environmental ethic in our youth?  

• Learn about why getting children outside and in nature is so important. 

Growing up in the city can be great for kids. Urban environments offer easy access to essential services like sanitation, health care, nutrition and education, not to mention all the fun activities that cities have to offer. But there are downsides to urban living, including limited amounts of green space—something that may have a lasting impact as children move into adulthood.

According to Jonathan Lambert of NPR, an expansive new study suggests there is an association between a lack of exposure to greenery in childhood and risk of mental illness in later life. The research, published in PNAS, encompassed nearly one million subjects in Denmark who were born between 1985 and 2003. The data was drawn from the Danish Civil Registration System, which records information like gender, place of birth and, crucially, a PIN number that is updated with each change of residence. PINs also link registrants to national databases tracking their socioeconomic and health status, among other things. The researchers, in other words, had access to a breadth of information about their subjects, allowing them to control for a variety of factors that might affect mental health.

Read the full article about the connection between nature and mental health by Brigit Katz at Smithsonian.