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Mental health services have closed down or cut hours during Covid, meaning youth are without in-person relational or professional supports with an increased up-take in over-populated virtual supports. Despite an increase in social media interaction, nothing replaces an in-person relationship:

So where can youth turn for a mental break?

In Figure 1, 80% of respondents Canada-wide utilize local greenspaces, making it the most popular leisure activity for youth relative to the others listed. Greenspace is free, appropriate for large gatherings, and is a space to detach from life’s problems – perfect for the youth lifestyle. One youth quotes:

However, this story isn’t constrained to youth in Victoria or Canada: the UN World Health Organization reports that greenspace is undeniably supportive for the mental and physical well-being of all people, regardless of age and economic status, to name a few.


Supporting Mental Health Post Covid?

Greenspaces are non-discriminatory health services only if they are properly maintained. However, the vitality of greenspace maintenance is often underestimated by local governments:

The Greater Victoria Area (GVA) ranks 8th in terms of greenspace. This, however, is misleading because only a fraction of greenspace in the GVA is allotted for public parks. As quoted above, only a select number of parks are easily accessible to the average person, resulting in overcrowding, especially during summer tourist season. The high demand for publicly accessible greenspace in the GVA testifies of its importance to locals and tourists alike. Municipalities should closely follow their greenspaces and ensure they are:

  • Plentiful enough to minimize overcrowding
  • Accessible to the physically disabled
  • Well equipped with amenities/services (ie. washrooms, benches, tables, parking)
  • Situated near transit routes

Improper care will make a greenspace less attractive to visit. Furthermore, lack of disability and transit accessibility discriminates against the handicapped and those without personal vehicles, defiling a greenspace’s non-discriminatory trait.

During COVID-19, Victoria and Canada’s youth are maximizing greenspace usage, likely to cope with mental health issues. Public greenspace is a non-discriminatory health service for mental and physical health universally. However, threats to greenspace effectiveness and its non-discriminatory nature include inadequate amenities/services, improper disability supports, and poor transit systems. Proper care for local greenspaces reduces health costs in the long run because a healthy greenspace equals a healthy community.

Jacob Tong
Data Analyst
Simon Fraser University


Resources

Pivot Hub 2020:

  • Survey Q20 -> This first set of statements talks about your access to information, programs, and city spaces. Please mark all the statements you agree with.
  • Survey Q21 -> This second set of statements talks about your access to health and safety (e.g. doctors, housing, etc.), experiences with discrimination, and financial issues. Please mark all the statements you agree with.
  • Survey Q25 -> This first set of statements is about the different amenities, services, programs and supports in your city. Mark all the statements you agree with.
  • Index -> Public Green Space -> Greenspace
  • Interview -> Worries about city and COVID-19 Recovery
  • Interview -> City Description
  • Interview -> Public Safety – Obstacle to desired future state

External data links:

  1. https://www.euro.who.int/__data/assets/pdf_file/0010/337690/FULL-REPORT-for-LLP.pdf

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