Review of Urban Mental Health

  • Niels Okkels
  • Christina Blanner Kristiansen
  • Povl Munk-Jørgensen
Reference work entry
Part of the Mental Health and Illness Worldwide book series (MHIW)


Today, more than half the world’s population lives in cities. We know very little, however, about how city living affects mental health. There are aspects of the urban environment that may be harmful. One such example is traffic. A recent review found that living in close proximity to a major road increases the risk of developing dementia. Another example is artificial light at night that seem to alter the sleep-wake cycle and negatively affect sleep quality and mood. Lack of access to green areas may also contribute to the current high rates of mental illness.

After presenting the potential problems of city living, we turn to look at the solutions. There is great potential in city planning, that is, how we incorporate our knowledge of green areas, noise, and aesthetics in the construction of neighborhoods and streets. Such initiatives, however, require political vision, and it is of outmost importance that those in power are aware of urban mental health if we wish to improve mental health in our future cities.


Urban health Urban population Urban planning Cities Rural health Mental health Mental illness Mental disorders 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Singapore 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Niels Okkels
    • 1
  • Christina Blanner Kristiansen
    • 2
  • Povl Munk-Jørgensen
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of Affective DisordersAarhus University Hospital RisskovRisskovDenmark
  2. 2.Department of PsychiatryOdense University HospitalOdenseDenmark

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