Solid foundations can build mental health

Mental health benefits from warm and secure housing

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Building design can impact mental health. Picture: Michael Joiner, 360info

Building design can impact mental health. Picture: Michael Joiner, 360info

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360info explores housing policy, residential green space and the meaning of 'home'.

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Access to warm, dry, secure, long-term housing is key to mental health.

Some estimates put the global homeless rate at 150 million people, but the real figure is difficult to measure - nations around the world define homelessness differently.

Being 'homeless' is more than just sleeping on the streets. The concept of home has social, emotional and security dimensions that are intrinsic to its definition. A sheltered person can still be homeless.

A home, then, provides intangible support, including mental health benefits.

Mental health was added to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals in 2015. The World Health Organization estimates that 450 million people suffer from mental health disorders, and this number is rising.

Depression is one of the leading causes of disability. Suicide is the fourth leading cause of death among 15- to 29-year-olds. People with severe mental health conditions die prematurely due to preventable physical conditions.

Access to warm, dry, secure, long-term housing is key to mental health. Architecture, views of greenery, security, privacy and affordability all have been shown to have mental health benefits.

Good design can come from traditional knowledge and practices just as well as from 'starchitects' in global centres. The challenge for the world is implementing locally appropriate ideas in our already crowded urban spaces.

The flow-on benefits for society at large are more than just a few prize-winning grand designs. If a person is 'homed', they have a longer-term chance of mental and physical health.

  • This article is originally published under Creative Commons by 360info. 360info addresses the world's key challenges as broadly defined by the UN's Sustainable Development Goals. But goes further by providing research-driven solutions. It is an independent nonprofit public information service with headquarters in Melbourne hosted at Monash University. 360info collaborates with many experts, but commissions only from academic authors with relevant and demonstrable research expertise.

The story Solid foundations can build mental health first appeared on The Canberra Times.

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