The physical environment one lives in inadvertently affects the mental health of the individuals. The Centre for Urban Design and Mental Health (UD/MH) reveals that urban settlements are more prone to incurring mental health conditions than rural settlements. The study revealed that urban settlers are at a 40 per cent higher risk of depression; over 20 per cent would be more vulnerable to get anxiety and the risk for schizophrenia is almost double in cities. COVID-19 has further augmented the impact hectic city life has on individuals.
The Hindu quoted Layla McCay, the Director of the London-based UD/MH, underlining the importance of the public realm of health. In the 1930s, two US-based sociologists noticed a distinct pattern in the people getting admitted to Chicago's asylums; the pattern showed that those born into inner cities were experiencing higher cases of mental disorders than those living on the outskirts of the city or in the countryside.
Factors Affecting Mental Health of City Dwellers
The Centre for Urban Design and Mental Health (UD/MH) has described how increasing urbanization affects people's mental health. In most cases, people prefer to move out of the comfortable space of their homes in search of better employment opportunities and living standards. However, the cost of living also increases as and when one moves to the city life when the migrant is not able to meet the expectations of his life, the mental agony increases.
Settling into a new city or a new city for reasons like transfer in jobs, changing workplaces and looking out for better opportunities, one needs to mingle with the society to feel at ease. Pre-existing notions like poverty, ethnicity, caste, colour, religions, and profession play an extremely decisive role in adjusting and adapting to the new social conditions. Changing environmental conditions and surroundings can make one feel ill at ease. An uncomfortable atmosphere, especially at home, can harm mental health more than toxic workplaces can.
Working From Home Conditions Becoming A Norm
The National Mental Health Survey in India in 2015-16 reiterated the growing burden of mental health issues in metropolitan cities. Higher suicide rates, substance use disorders and dementia are more prevalent in cities than in rural areas. Therefore, work from home opportunities is taxing because the employees are juggling both work and home simultaneously.
The COVID-imposed work from conditions has made workcations a norm. People prefer the new kind of setting because it allows them the freedom to constantly change their working locations, from chaotic city life to slower and more peaceful surroundings, providing them with a much-needed headspace to prioritize their mental and physical well-being while being on top of their game at work.