عنوان مقاله [English]
For the first time in human history, more than half of the world’s population live in urban areas and this is projected to increase to two-thirds by 2030. This increased urbanity of the world’s population has substantial public health implications since Mental Health (MH) has a relevant burden on the health of populations.
Urban studies and research show that urban Built Environment (BE) is one of the potential determinants of health. World Health Organization (WHO) emphasizes on considering the effects of environment on human and Mental Health (MH). “Ensuring that citizens realize their potential, coping with the normal stresses of life, working productively and fruitfully, and making a contribution to their community and a successful city”, is the main definition of mental health. It is evident that there has been a growing interest in understanding the effects of specific neighborhood qualities on the mental health of citizens. Neglecting these aspects affects the mental health of residents, leading to various psychological problems. Stress, aggression, depression, boredom, and physical symptoms are some of the consequences.
This study attempts to explore the neighborhood environmental factors that impact the mental health of the neighborhood residents by assuming that the environmental quality of urban residential areas affects the mental health of citizens. It also investigates the extent of these factors affecting mental health significantly. The hypothesis was investigated through a literature review and survey study by means of questionnaire and observations, derived from the literature review and theoretical framework. We examined cross-sectional associations of neighborhood environmental qualities with mental health of residents in 380 participants in two neighborhoods, investigating socio-economic and demographic characteristics.
By doing literature review, and presenting theoretical framework, this study examines the relationships between variables. This study using correlation analysis, evaluates the strength of a relationship between environmental quality of the neighborhoods and the mental health outcomes of residents in two research groups located in two different neighborhoods. Via exploratory factor analysis, Pearson correlation coefficient, and Multiple Regression, a conceptual model is presented showing the relationship between different aspects of environmental quality of urban residential areas and the mental health levels of residents.
As an applied research and mixed-methods research designed by analytical and descriptive approach; firstly, summative content analysis based on the key words - taken from literature review; and then, a survey study via questionnaire and observations has been done. Data Analysis has been conducted by means of SPSS statistical software for both descriptive and inferential statistics. Dependent and independent variables are mental health of the residents and environmental quality of the neighborhoods, respectively. To assess mental health of residents the General Health Questionnaire standardized scale (GHQ) has been used (α=0.88). Researchers’ made questionnaire, derived from literature review, summative content analysis, and exploratory factor analysis, reliable with alpha coefficient (0.87) has been conducted to evaluate environmental quality of the neighborhood into three subscales: formal, functional and perceptual. And also, validity of the questionnaire was established by a panel of experts familiar with the issue. Finally, the overall alpha coefficient was 0.88.
The measurement of survey sample size according to Morgan table and Cochran formula of the entire 6000 populations of two participated neighborhoods, with the 95% confidence level, was measured 361. To precise the measurements, the number of participants was increased to 380 numbers. Simple random sampling was done for 190 residents into two neighborhoods. The survey study was conducted for one month in Sabzevar in two neighborhoods, Enghelab and Bahar, being different in their environmental features and qualities, but identical in socio-economic and demographic characteristics. While Enghelab neighborhood suffers from different aspects of low environmental qualities, Bahar neighborhood enjoys more public open spaces, social activities and active public life, mixed land-use, better physical maintenance, safety and security, better quality of the pavements, and better accessibility to parks and neighborhood facilities. Also, the existence of mosque, recreational centers, historical buildings, trees, shrubs and flowers, shops, local bakeries, and sociability and walkability in Bahar neighborhood are considered some of the opposite substantial discrepancies.
Finally, the results have approved the hypothesis, and shown that more neighborhood environmental quality was associated with higher levels of mental health in neighborhood residents, significantly. Furthermore, using exploratory factor analysis and according to the results of multiple regression analysis, an analytical-descriptive model has been presented depicting the relationship between three subscale aspects of the neighborhood environmental qualities that are perceptual, functional, and physical aspects affecting the mental health status of neighborhood residents. It is concluded that firstly, the perceptual aspects (place attachment, and social activities, community relationships and active social life, control on your privacy and relationships, and historical buildings and monuments), secondly, the functional aspects (accessibility, walkability, having good neighborhood services and facilities, noise, crowd, insecurity), and eventually, physical aspects (maintenance, public open space, green space, natural places and natural lights) are the main aspects of the environmental neighborhoods that influence mental health of neighborhood residents, respectively.