According to recent projections, about 70% of the world’s population will be living in an urban setting by the year 2050. As the world’s population continues to grow, more and more people are living in cities, which offer an abundance of job prospects and opportunities as compared to more rural areas. Many of us are already living in an urban area and as people continue to relocate to bustling cities, the adverse effects on the mental health of residents continues to grow. According to the Center for Urban Design and Mental Health, those living in a city have a 40% increased risk of developing depression and a 50% increased risk of developing schizophrenia.
So what could be causing this increased risk? The average city living individual is wealthier than those who live in the country, however, there are varying socioeconomic classes within any given city which could cause those of lower socioeconomic status to feel alienated from the city. When someone feels oppressed due to their social status, these negative feelings could allow underlying mental health issues to surface. Additionally, the problem of overcrowding in cities could also lend a hand to adverse mental health reactions and is something those who live in a rural setting don’t have to deal with.
There is no doubt that the research shows that living in a city poses risks for mental illness. An article was written on Scientific American’s website that discusses the possible reasons for this correlation between mental disorders and city living, one of which was the loss of control and increase in stress that a city dweller is likely to feel as opposed to a rural resident. Living in a city will inevitably cause stress, especially for those who are prone to feeling anxious in social settings, as there is a constant flow of people in any given city. A research study was done to compare the stress reactors of city dwellers versus small town dwellers, and it showed that people living in a city had a greater response to stress.
A study, currently conducted by Professor Colin Ellard, is researching the effects of skyscrapers on the brain and it attempted to figure out if being around these mammoth structures had a negative reaction for mental health. Ellard decided to study this as he wanted to know if others shared the negative feeling he got when exposed to a skyscraper. If Ellard’s study proves that skyscrapers do cause people to experience feelings of depression, it could help explain why so many more cases of mental illness happen within city limits.