Professor of the Practice of Law University of Denver Sturm College of Law

Therapeutic Landscapes

Saturday, March 20 is the first day of spring.

Research shows that spending time in green spaces, natural outdoor settings, can improve mental health.  Beneficial green spaces range from urban parks to the wildlife areas of state and national parks.

Research also shows that exposure to blue spaces, bodies of water such as rivers, lakes, and oceans, can improve mental health and physical activity.  A 17-year study on the regeneration of canals in North Glasgow Scotland showed a decrease in mortality over the duration of the study, with the most positive longevity results for the population closest to the improved canal system.

The pandemic has caused a range of mental health problems including higher levels of stress, anxiety, and depression.  “The past year has been terribly damaging to our collective mental health.  There is no vaccine for mental illness,” states Michelle Williams, the Dean of Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.  And it’s not over.  But as the weather improves with the onset of spring, we can go outside.

Takeaway:  Use therapeutic landscapes to ease the mental pain of the pandemic.  Go.  Outside.

#BrainHealth #MentalStrength #LawyerWellbeing


Magdelena van den Berg, et al., Health Benefits of Green Spaces in the Living Environment: A Systematic Review of Epidemiological Studies, Vol. 4 Issue 4 Urban Forestry & Urban Greening 806 (2015),

Mireia Gascon, et al., Outdoor Blue Spaces, Human Health and Well-being: A Systematic Review of Quantitative Studies, Vol. 220 Issue 8 International Journal of Hygiene and Environmental Health 1207 Nov 2017,

Zoë Tieges, et al., The Impact of Regeneration and Climate Adaptations of Urban Green-Blue Assets on All-Cause Mortality: A 17-Year Longitudinal Study, Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2020, 17(12), 4577,

Alvin Powell, Pandemic Pushes Mental Health to the Breaking Point, The Harvard Gazette, Jan. 27, 2021,

%d bloggers like this: