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Is urban living good for mental health?

Lecic-Tosevski, Dusica

Current Opinion in Psychiatry: May 2019 - Volume 32 - Issue 3 - p 204–209
doi: 10.1097/YCO.0000000000000489

Purpose of review The questions of urban living, mental health and well-being are complex issues correlated to many interacting factors. The purpose of this review is to provide data on mental health challenges of urban life and perspectives to address these challenges.

Recent findings Urbanization may cause mental health problems, such as psychotic experiences, depression and stress-related disorders, particularly in vulnerable individuals. Challenges of urban living are even greater in developing countries, because of other urgent problems these countries are facing. New findings identified distinct neural mechanisms for an established environmental risk factor, linking the urban environment to social stress processing. Nature-based solutions may be helpful in preventing mental disorders and in alleviating psychological symptoms.

Summary The data of impact of urban living on mental health are still controversial and mechanism of association is unclear. Urban living may be related to biological or social/environmental factors or both. Most probably, urbanicity has a synergistic effect with genetic vulnerability. Interdisciplinary and intersectoral actions are needed to meet urban living challenges, such as providing access to green space and mental health services, decrease of poverty, homelessness and emerging problems of immigration to cities.

Serbian Academy of Sciences and Arts, Institute of Mental Health, WHO Collaborating Centre, Belgrade, Serbia

Correspondence to Dusica Lecic-Tosevski, MD, PhD, Serbian Academy of Sciences and Arts, Institute of Mental Health, WHO Collaborating Centre, Palmoticeva 37, 11000 Belgrade, Serbia. Tel: +381 11 3238 160; fax: +381 11 3231 333; e-mail:,

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