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Open Health

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The connection between urban greenspace and mental health is a robust but unsettled area of research in the public health and urban planning literatures. Inconsistent findings in prior studies are mostly due to differences in greenspace measurements and interrelations with socio-demographic factors. This study examines the relationships of mental health prevalence (MHP) with health prevention, socioeconomic and race-ethnicity factors, and proximity to greenspace at the census-tract level in the City of San Diego, California, using data from the CDC 500 Cities Project and US Census Bureau. We considered three greenspace proximity measures: distances to specified vegetation types, parks, and tree cover. Spear-man’s rank correlation showed that MHP was significantly correlated to distances to greenspace (rho = 0.480), parks (rho = 0.234), and tree cover (rho = 0.342), and greenspace proximity plus crime occurrence explained 37.8% of the variance in MHP in regression analysis. Further analysis revealed that socioeconomic status, race-ethnicity, and health prevention explained more than 93% of the variance in MHP, while greenspace proximity did not enter the regression model with statistical significance. We discovered that certain socioeconomic and race-ethnicity variables, such as proportion of Hispanic population, poverty, and regular checkup, may fully represent the effects of greenspace on MHP in the City of San Diego. Regression analysis for three subsections of the city suggested that different predictors of MHP should be considered in formulating intervention measures. Our results indicate the need to improve mental health conditions through a range of interventions that address the disparities experienced by racial-ethnic minorities and those in lower-socioeconomic classes.