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Designers guideline to ensure Mental Health is considered.

There has long been a problem with mental health. There has been more attention has just recently paid to mental health following the COVID-19 pandemic. It should come as no surprise that spending too much time indoors will have a detrimental impact on anyone. Astronauts, for instance, go through psychological testing to make sure they can survive months of solitude during their journey to explore deep space. Mental health has always been there. However, it wasn’t until later that the public began to respect it. Mental health issues are rather typical. In England, one in four persons has some sort of mental health issue.

The government’s priorities have shifted from the natural world to “creating beauty.” The planning policies of the UK demonstrate this. Along with the national model design code, the NPPF revisions were also provided to us. It is clear that having attractive structures or settings can have a negative impact on a person’s mental health. The new environment bill also promotes green infrastructure onsite or offsite.   Numerous studies have shown that including green spaces in our constructed environment could be quite healing for our minds. I’ll give some examples of some of the things designers may consider when designing their work to help tackle mental health issues below.

Green Infrastructure

Having accessible green space will always link positively to mental health and well-being. Having these areas available in your neighbourhood can aid in lowering depression, reducing stress, and enhancing cognitive abilities. By incorporating green infrastructure into every aspect of our designs, we as urban designers can make these possible. This way, whether it’s through your office window or a cafe, you have constant exposure to urban wildlife. People frequently congregate in green settings, which encourages social contact and has a favourable impact on mental health.

Green Infrastructure and Stormwater Management | Global Designing Cities  Initiative

Active Spaces

Giving people a place to engage in a variety of activities not only draws attention to the area but also benefits those who struggle with stress, depression, and even dementia. According to studies, physical activity causes the brain to release chemicals like serotonin, which have an impact on our mood. In addition to improving our health, these activities also boost our sense of accomplishment and boost our self-esteem. This can be incorporated by encouraging greater active transportation and supporting safe walking and bicycling conditions. Increasing the number of public spaces that encourage physical activity both in and around low-income neighbourhoods and throughout urban areas.

RGU students design therapeutic landscape and active spaces with CLAN and  Transition Extreme

Social Spaces

Naturally, a person’s mental health can be significantly impacted by their interactions with friends and family. People’s mental health was affected during COVID for a number of reasons, including the sense that there was less social interaction. People felt lonely and isolated as a result of this. Urban areas ought to have social spaces as well as active ones so that people can interact. This can be accomplished by providing additional areas with amenities where people can congregate, such as a cafe or warm settings where people feel at ease socialising and interacting.

AfterCovid.City – Public Space for Recovery

Safety

Although few people are aware of it, a person’s sense of safety is important for maintaining their mental health. This can involve risks brought on by other people, environmental pollution, traffic, and becoming lost in a metropolis. Anyone who has been impacted by crime, in particular, needs to feel protected if they are to feel safe. Chronic tension, elevated levels of stress, and a sense of unease in the neighbourhood are all exacerbated by feeling unsafe. Each of these could have an impact on someone’s mental health. It is our goal as urban designers to make public places more visible and easy to access. And make improvements to the area through upkeep, as people are more inclined to travel through a well-kept location than they are to pass through one that is covered with graffiti.

Global Street Design Guide

Sleep

Uneven sleep patterns can frequently have an impact on one’s mood. Light and noise can limit and affect sleep. At 40 dB, noise can begin to disrupt sleep. At 65 dB, noise wakes 15% of sleepers, and at 60 dB, it wakes a third of sleepers. Insomniacs are four times more prone to experience depression. Although the connection between sleep and mental health is not entirely understood, studies have shown that getting enough sleep promotes improved mental health. It is advised that designers include street trees and effective building insulation in their designs to help reduce this problem.

Economic Stress

Given the pandemic and the global economic crisis that is growing. The world is about to go into recession. Many people see this as a loss of employment opportunities, an increase in living costs, and a threat to their well-being. The stresses brought on by our current economic situation can have a negative impact on people’s mental health. Our politics are much to blame, but as urban designers, we can also help to reduce these problems. One of these ways is through offering well-maintained, inexpensive housing, affordable transportation with adequate connections, and active transportation that allow everyone to benefit from the city’s economic, educational, social, and cultural opportunities.

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School of Architecture
Planning and Landscape
Newcastle upon Tyne
Tyne and Wear, NE1 7RU

Telephone: 0191 208 6509

Email: nicola.rutherford@ncl.ac.uk