The Impact of the Local Social and Physical Local Environment on Wellbeing

Anne Ellaway

University of Glasgow, U.K.


In the United Kingdom mental health problems constitute 23% of the total burden of disease (a composite measure of premature mortality and reduced quality of life), costing 11% of all spending of the National Health Service (NHS) secondary health-care budget (Department of Health, 2011). This figure does not include costs to primary care or increased costs elsewhere caused by poor mental health exacerbating other health problems (Naylor et al., 2012). There are also the wider costs to employment and workplace productivity as well as the informal care provided by family members and others (McCrone, Dhanasiri, Patel, Knapp, & Lawton-Smith, 2008).

The prevalence and experience of poor mental health is not distributed evenly across populations. Associations between higher frequencies of common mental disorders (depression and anxiety) and material disadvantage have been found in a number of European studies (Fryers, Melzer, Jenkins, & Brugha, 2005). In Scotland, poorer mental health is higher among women and those individuals living in deprived areas (Scottish Executive, 2011). A number of studies have shown that area of residence is associated with mental health even after taking individual characteristics such as gender, age, income, and social class into account (Kim, 2008). There is growing interest in which features of the local residential neighborhood ...

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