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article imageDoes city life affect our mental health?

By Tim Sandle     Jul 3, 2019 in Health
New research shows people in cities report feelings of loneliness more than the rest of the population overall. Researchers suggest that feelings of loneliness are as harmful as smoking 15 cigarettes a day.
The information relates to the U.K., with the data drawn from the government's Office of National Statistics (Community Life Survey), however the findings will be generally applicable to most city living. The focus is on the feelings of loneliness that can affect many people living in highly built up areas, linking this to mental health issues and physiological factors, such as the findings that those suffering from feelings of loneliness are 50 percent more likely to die prematurely compared with those who have strong social relationships.
As an example of the city impact, research suggests that children living in cities are up to four times lonelier than those living in the countryside (19.5 percent compared to just over 5 percent). When asked why, most raises urban isolation as a key reason for this feeling of loneliness. One reason because parents are more hesitant to let children go out on their own.
READ MORE: Seeking the ultimate wellbeing? You need two hours of nature
The government data has been unpicked by travel provider Forest Holidays, to consider what effects living in a city has on mental health and how this is major issue facing policy makers in 2019. In many cities, in relation to those studying, demand for mental health services for students has risen 50 percent. For a different demographic, it also stands that those aged 50 and over are more likely to report feelings of chronic loneliness.
There is also a connection drawn out from the city-life factor and social media, according to the Forest Holidays analysis. Here Instagram has been named the potentially most damaging social media network for mental health and wellbeing. This is indicative of the affects of social media overall, especially in relation to increasing feelings pf anxiety and potentially a loss of control. For example, one in five young people admits to waking up in the middle of the night to check messages on social media.
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