Urban Lifestyle and Mental Health: Probing the Depths of Psychological Impact

Urban Lifestyle and Mental Health: Probing the Depths of Psychological Impact


Over half of the world’s population already resides in cities, and over half of that percentage is predicted to rise over the next several decades. Anxiety, sadness, and schizophrenia have been linked to an increased risk of mental diseases in metropolitan regions. Functional magnetic resonance imaging research has revealed alterations in the brain. Demonstrating the connection between urban living and upbringing and the processing of social stress. Urban locations may have worse mental health due to a variety of causes, including greater noise levels, lack of open space, crime and socioeconomic inequality, exposure to pollutants from the air, and the stress of sensory overload. However, there are benefits to living in a city, like having easier access to social services and healthcare, as well as improved educational opportunities.

Urban surroundings differ widely, and numerous factors may come into play. For instance, a study discovered a correlation between reduced sadness and neighbourhood attributes like safety, pleasantness, and social cohesiveness. According to the study, the following are some aspects of metropolitan surroundings that can be beneficial to mental health:

  • Green areas, such as little parks in cities and tree-lined avenues.
  • Active environments, such as stroller-friendly neighbourhoods and leisure and recreation centres support mental and physical well-being. 
  • Public areas, such as benches, that promote social gatherings
  • Safe environments are where individuals worry less about things like traffic, crime, and other safety concerns.

Urban living’s physical and social surroundings can influence mental health and wellness in both favourable and unfavourable ways. Compared to rural areas, cities have greater rates of most mental health issues, including double the risk of schizophrenia, over 20% higher anxiety, and an over 40% higher risk of depression. They also have higher levels of stress, loneliness, and isolation. A person’s enjoyment, coping mechanisms, relationships, educational attainment, employment, housing, and economic potential can all be enhanced by good mental health. It can also help lower physical health issues, lower the cost of healthcare and social services, foster social capital, and lower the suicide rate.

Reasons why people in cities may have increased mental health problems

1. Pre-existing risk factors:

Better services, more social and economic opportunities, and a way to get away from unpleasant memories of the past are among the reasons why many people relocate to cities. Risk factors for mental health issues include things like poverty, homelessness, unemployment, mental and physical health issues, past trauma, personal crises, family breakups, addiction, and immigration, which may be the reason why some people seek these things out. This societal drift creates a population that is more prone to mental health issues.

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2. Social variables:

Individuals who already have risk characteristics, such as poverty, minority status, or a history of mental health issues, frequently experience adverse inequities in the city. For instance, this may entail physical and psychological segregation into neighbourhoods that may be marked by social difficulties and poverty, which can lead to emotions of unfairness and hopelessness as well as experiences with prejudice and discrimination that may hurt mental health. Childhood psychosis risk has been reported to be increased by low social connection and trauma from crime. 

3. Environmental variables:

Living in an urban environment can have two major effects on people: it can increase stimuli and deprive them of protective elements.


The amount of stimuli that city dwellers are exposed to is higher due to factors like noise, crowding, density, pollution, smells, sights, disarray, and intensity of other inputs. Every element of the urban environment has been purposefully created to convey signals and meanings. At a latent level of awareness, these cues elicit action and thinking, and their potency increases when an inability to “cope” develops. This may result in overload, which raises the body’s natural stress, arousal, and readiness levels while also encouraging people to look for relief: peaceful, secluded areas; eventually, this desire can develop into social isolation linked to anxiety and depression. It also serves as the foundation for the ecological theory of schizophrenia.

Erosion of protective factors:

Compared to people living in rural regions, city dwellers may have less access to the elements that are protective for mental health. For instance, when people spend more time at work and travelling throughout the city, they can have less access to nature, fewer opportunities to include exercise in their daily routines and less free time. Factors like crowding, light, noise, and stress can cause people to feel uncomfortable, have less privacy, and sleep even less. People who migrate from rural to urban areas frequently leave behind their supportive networks of friends and family, and it takes time to build up a similar social capital in the city. This may be especially true for urban inhabitants, who may be reluctant to socialize to prevent being overstimulated, out of fear for their safety, or because they see a lower chance of developing lasting relationships with everyone they meet. People are more prone to mental health issues as these protective characteristics disappear.

Positive effects of urban living 

There are some advantages to living in a metropolis as opposed to a rural one. Nowadays, most people on the planet reside in cities due to these advantages. Although living in a rural area is less stressful, living in a city offers a greater variety of opportunities and a larger population. Cities are turning a profit as a result of the sharp rise in urbanization. Compared to their counterparts in rural areas, people in cities are more likely to jog or walk in parks or engage in other forms of physical activity.

Read More: The Impact of the Industrial Revolution on Mental Health

1. Increased Employment Possibilities 

There are many employment available in cities. You have more employment options than if you lived in a hamlet or in the country. However, there are still plenty of jobs available that are looking to hire qualified applicants. You might also sign up for a quick course if you need to learn new abilities. For you to acquire new skills and land your ideal job. There is more employment available in every industry if you possess a sufficient level of education. Jobs in customer service, clerking, engineering, etc. are among them. This is one of the main causes of the large number of people who move from rural to urban areas.

2. A Higher Chance Of Social Interaction 

Networking, or meeting new people, is one of the best ways for people to find new possibilities. You will make new friends wherever you go in the city, or you may run into someone who can suggest an opportunity for you. A lot of knowledge and information about cities may also be found online and on computers, which may not be as easily accessible for those living in rural areas. As you get more accustomed to living in a city, you’ll probably make more acquaintances and widen your network of contacts, which will open up more opportunities.

3. Improved Infrastructure & Education 

Opportunities Different courses are offered in cities by a multitude of educational possibilities and institutions. In the metropolis, getting a bank loan is much simpler, even though it may be rather pricey. Moving to a city might be a better option if you have children. They’ll receive a more contemporary lifestyle and more options. Larger cities provide more opportunities to advance your talents or learn something new every step of the way. It will be simpler to save money for your child’s education with a job in a city because salaries there are also often greater.

4. Greater Access to Facilities and Health Information 

Cities offer a wealth of resources for leading a healthy lifestyle, including top-notch medical professionals and immunization facilities. People who have access to better medical facilities and who make a commitment to maintaining a clean environment are known to live longer. Moreover, NGOs like UNICEF operate in large cities, raising public awareness of health issues and providing access to flu shots and other services even for the impoverished. The large population number could lead to increased immunity. Cities also have sizable areas set aside for parks and gyms, which encourage people to walk and work out.

Read More: The Role of Parents in Career Choice

Due to the availability of home appliances, a wider range of services, and modern facilities, people always opt to live in cities. You can thereby enjoy a higher standard of living.

How To Combat The Mental Health Effects Of City Living 

Stress and mental health problems can arise whether you live in a city or a suburb. You can deal with everything life throws at you more controllably if you can learn how to regulate your stress. 

Establish A Balance Between Work and Life 

It’s important to establish balance in your life. Whether it be in a healthy diet, physical activity, career, or personal life, balance is crucial. According to 84% of millennials, burnout has happened to them at work. Burnout is the result of prolonged, unsustainable stress at work; 25% of professionals never or very seldom take a vacation day. You may set boundaries to enjoy your time in and out of the office by maintaining a work/life balance. It’s crucial to find a balance that suits your mental health.

Read more: Psychological Insights for Enhanced Employee Wellbeing in the Workplace

Look for a way to relax 

Take daily walks in the park, jog in the morning, or make sure you never skip your yoga class after work. See friends, enjoy the great outdoors, and build a support system that will help you through good and terrible times. Living in a city can make you more susceptible to pressures, but you can manage stress better if you can find ways to decompress and improve your mood. Frequent exercise can help you focus better, sleep better, feel more confident, and reduce stress and worry. Exercise is beneficial to your physical health, but it also has a significant positive impact on your mental well-being.

Read more: Understanding the Crucial Bond Between Mental and Physical Health

Obtain Restful Sleep 

It’s tempting to stay up late to avoid missing out on the fun when it seems like a city never sleeps but getting too little sleep makes it difficult to handle the daily grind. The majority of people are aware of how moody moods can be caused by poor sleep. However, getting too little sleep can have an unpleasant emotional impact; 21% of individuals report feeling more stressed out when they don’t get enough sleep.

Take away

Different symptom groups correspond with specific urban environmental profiles. The first urban profile, linked to affective symptoms, reflected a dense, impoverished inner-city area and was characterized by traffic, air pollution, deprivation, and a lack of green space. It was also short of urban facilities.

The second urban profile had green spaces, lakes, rivers, seas, and great distances to waste and energy facilities. It also showed an inverse correlation with symptoms of anxiety. Compared to the first two symptom groups, the third urban profile explained less variance in symptoms of emotional instability. The density of land use and urban infrastructure were strongly connected with this profile.

References +
  • City living and mental well-being. (n.d.). https://www.psychiatry.org/news-room/apa-blogs/city-living-and-mental-well-being
  • How the city affects mental health. (n.d.). Centre for Urban Design and Mental Health. https://www.urbandesignmentalhealth.com/how-the-city-affects-mental-health.html
  • News-Medical. (2023, June 20). Urban jungle: How city living may impact mental health. https://www.news-medical.net/news/20230619/Urban-jungle-How-city-living-may-impact-mental-health.aspx
  • Courtney. (2023, September 12). Mental health effects of living in a city. Thriving Center of Psychology. https://thrivingcenterofpsych.com/blog/mental-health-effects-of-living-in-a-city/

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