Urban design for mental health

Front cover of the Urban Design and Mental Health Journal, Aging City Edition.Walkability has been the focus of good public spaces to encourage physical health. However, the recent pandemic increased our awareness of the need for urban design for mental health. The Aging City Edition of the Journal of Urban Design and Mental Health looks at the dimension of cognitive decline. Here’s what’s in the 7th edition of this academic publication:

The Editorial focuses on the need for new directions in interdisciplinary research

Dementia-friendly neighbourhoods is about the methodological challenges and opportunities

The role of green spaces in preventing cognitive decline calls for “research-by-design”.

Older residents’ mental health status is compared in suburbs versus traditional neighbourhoods is compared to find key design solutions. 

Case studies include Guy Luscombe’s Age n Dem Toolkit, the role of community square dancing in China, and a look at design culture to to empower older people. City Case Studies are Lagos and Sydney. 

Although this is an academic journal, the research and findings provide direction for urban planners and support the need for more pedestrian friendly neighbourhoods. 

Urban planning and Coronavirus

Aerial view of a major intersection in the Melbourne CBD.The daily disadvantage of marginalised groups is more clearly revealed as others fall into the ranks of disadvantage during this pandemic.  A discussion paper from Berkeley argues that this current pandemic is an opportunity to consider similar urban health reforms that followed previous epidemics. Promoting inclusive and healthy cities for all is the bottom line in this thoughtful discussion.

The discussion paper takes the perspective of people with functional limitations. For many people worldwide, disability is about health, human rights, and poverty. It’s an urban development issue and time to move from the medical model to the social model of disability. Also discussed are how people with disability are left out of economic responses, such as one-off support payments, and not included in planning to prevent future crises.

The authors provide recommendations for how this pandemic can best support people with disability and how this makes cities healthier for all. They warn that pandemics also run the risk of exacerbating further marginalisation through racism and segregation. The abstract below is the essence of the paper.

The title of the paper is, Disability, Urban Health Equity, and the Coronavirus Pandemic: Promoting Cities for All


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