(Update) Over three-and-a-half billion people, more than half the world’s population, live in urban areas. This number is rising fast, and it is expected that 66% of the global population will live in cities by 2050. What are the implications of this increasing urbanisation for our mental health and wellbeing?
Urban Mind is a citizen science research project that measures the experience of city living in the moment. By collecting real-time data, the researchers are able to understand how different aspects of the urban environment affect mental health and wellbeing. The researchers hope the results will inform future urban planning and social policy aimed at improving design & health. Urban Mind is free to use and can be downloaded from the Apple Store and Google Play.
By downloading this FREE app and using it for just 14 days you will help the developers explore the wider questions that surround urban planning, social policy, design and health as well as historical and cultural perspectives on city living and the human mind.
It’s a fun and rewarding project to participate in. By checking in with yourself regularly you create a baseline of how you are feeling on a daily basis. This can depend not only on your immediate environment but also how you slept, how much work you are doing, your stress levels and much more. It just takes three minutes a day and you will be joining other city dwellers from all over the world in helping to influence urban planning in to taking more account of how to make cities more people friendly rather than just simply efficient.
Download the app here: www.urbanmind.info/#download_app
Urban Mind is a collaboration between arts foundation Nomad Projects, landscape architects J&L Gibbons and the Institute of Psychology, Psychiatry & Neuroscience, King’s College London.
Professor Andrea Mechelli, Department of Psychosis Studies, Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology & Neuroscience, King’s College London, said, ‘Our pilot findings suggest that short term exposure to nature has a measurable beneficial impact on mental wellbeing. The interaction of this effect with trait impulsivity is intriguing, as it suggests that nature could be especially beneficial to those individuals who are at risk of poor mental health. From a clinical perspective, we hope this line of research will lead to the development of low-cost scalable interventions aimed at promoting mental health in urban populations.’
Johanna Gibbons and Neil Davidson, landscape architects at J & L Gibbons, said, ‘Right now decisions on urban planning and design aimed at improving mental health tend to be based on “conventional wisdom”, due to the lack of robust scientific data. Our findings provide a much-needed evidence base for the benefits of nature within urban centres. From the perspective of urban planning and design, we hope the results will inform future investments and policies, helping build healthier cities’.
Michael Smythe, an artist and action-based researcher at Nomad Projects, comments, ‘This study represents a successful example of how smartphone technologies can be employed as a tool for citizen science. It also demonstrates the value of academic and non-academic researchers coming together to carry out truly cross-disciplinary work with tangible real-world implications