Posted by Ryan
Why the campaign to save Watson's Bay is good for mental health
For some time now there's been a huge community campaign going on in Sydney's Eastern Suburbs to save Watson's Bay and South Head.
Watson's Bay is the suburb right at the end of the southern headland (South Head) of Sydney harbour. It is a beautiful, picturesque area steeped in indigenous and Australian European history, and includes South Head National Park, a lovely patch of greenery and bushland, surrounded by sweeping harbour and ocean views. It is a small but important natural refuge in a part of Sydney that is busy, crowded, and (arguably) increasingly over-developed.
In 2015, a large entertainment venue company put forward a proposal to create a number of function and event venues in the Watsons' Bay / South Head area, including within the National Park, that opponents of the plan argued would have severely limited public access to this important place.
Thousands and thousands of Sydneysiders supported the "Save Watson's Bay" campaign, and it became a significant election issue in the recent Wentworth by-election, with all the major candidates expressing their opposition to the proposal. Thankfully for the "Save Watson's Bay" campaigners, the government announced in December that the development proposal had been rejected.
This outcome is a great example of the power of grassroots local activism. It's also something that's important for local mental health (I know, right?). The truth is that we need more green space, more nature, for not just our physical wellbeing but our mental wellbeing too.
As Sydney (including the Eastern Suburbs) becomes denser and more populated, and backyards become more and more a thing of the past, retaining access to green spaces and the natural environment is increasingly important. There is a whole lot of research evidence now supporting the importance of green spaces and nature for mental health.
For example, access to green spaces is correlated with increased exercise, which in turn is associated with better mental health. Research has also shown that simply being exposed to green natural environments is psychologically restorative and has positive impacts on emotional and mood states, and cognition. These kinds of areas also provide us with spaces to engage in social activities which promote connectedness and reduce feelings of isolation.
Some other interesting research findings to do with the benefits of having more nature and green spaces around the areas we live include correlations between:
So, well done to the people power behind "Save Waton's Bay" and "Save South Head"! And if you live in Sydney's Eastern Suburbs, or anywhere for that matter, why not get outside for a walk in the park!
Taking the first step can be scary, but change has to start somewhere. For a confidential chat about getting started with psychology sessions, contact us at 0431 136 523 (Sydney) or 0410 843 679 (Melbourne), or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also send us a message via the 'Contact' page.
Be Psychology & Mental Health is an expert clinical psychology practice with locations in Sydney and Melbourne, Australia.