Mental Health: Well-planned cities are good for the soul

From professional opportunities to access to various educational institutions to diverse cultural offerings, cities lack a lot in rural areas. City life especially attracts young people.

The under-25s are the demographic group most strongly drawn from rural areas to the city. Increasing urbanization also means that more children and young people are growing up there. According to estimates By 2050, 70 percent of all children worldwide will live in cities.

Concrete walls instead of lawns

Researchers have been able to show many times in the past that growing up in an urban environment sometimes has negative consequences. The mental health of young people in particular is affected by the stress of city life.

In addition to the possibility of conflict with other residents and constant stress, the lack of contact with nature plays an important role. In 2019, a Danish research team was able to show that childhood in the countryside is more soul-protecting than living between concrete walls and house facades.

International study

To discuss the causes of adolescent psychological problems in more detail, a research team asked the views of more than 500 people from 53 countries – including city planners, scientists and young people living in urban environments. Questionnaires came from international experts around psychiatry Pamela Collins From the US Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.

The team asked test subjects in three questionnaires about the characteristics that make a city a livable place for young people and what is necessary to counter rising psychological problems. The The result of the survey The researchers are currently presenting in the journal “Nature.”

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Build social networks

A strong social network with peers and friends is critical to mental health. According to the survey, when planning cities, it is important to create free spaces where people can voluntarily make informal connections, learn and play together.

These spaces can give children, teens and young adults a sense of community that is often missing in big cities. The researchers hypothesized that this would later increase their willingness to engage in this community and make the environment more livable. According to the survey, for this to work in the long term, it is necessary to involve young residents in the planning of these spaces.

In addition to more spaces for social interaction, well-developed means of transport are also needed, for example to take children to school safely. Opportunities to spend time in nature can also be important. So city planners should pay more attention to green spaces and easy access to cultural offerings that can make urban environments more livable.

Prevent worries about the future and discrimination

Institutions that support children beyond the curriculum and give them the tools to deal with their own mental health will also be critical. Creating long-term, secure jobs and affordable housing ensures less stress, pressure to perform and concerns about the future for the entire family.

As different cultures always coexist in cities, it is necessary to address and take action against potential discrimination against certain minority groups.

The study group did not make any concrete recommendations on how to achieve all this. Different cities require different measures. However, the survey will help city planners pay more attention to the well-being and mental health of young residents in the future.

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