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The impact on mental well‐being of the urban and physical environment: an assessment of the evidence

Annette Chu (Intern King's College, London)
Alice Thorne (Intern King's College, London)
Hilary Guite (Greenwich TPCT)

Journal of Public Mental Health

ISSN: 1746-5729

Article publication date: 1 June 2004



In 2001 each primary care trust in England was required to undertake a needs assessment in preparation for the development of a mental health promotion strategy. In Greenwich, it was decided to include the physical environment as one of the themes. This paper describes the findings of a literature review undertaken of health, social sciences and architectural research and the preliminary conceptual model subsequently developed to pull together all aspects of the interface between the urban and physical environment and mental well‐being. The literature review identified five key domains that impacted on this relationship: control over the internal housing environment, quality of housing design and maintenance, presence of valued ‘escape facilities’, crime and fear of crime, and social participation. That these domains can be confounded by socio‐economic and demographic factors and also interact with cultural factors and housing type suggests the importance of a public health approach, which focuses on causal systems rather than simply on individual causal factors.


Chu, A., Thorne, A. and Guite, H. (2004), "The impact on mental well‐being of the urban and physical environment: an assessment of the evidence", Journal of Public Mental Health, Vol. 3 No. 2, pp. 17-32.



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Copyright © 2004, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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