Mental ill-health and poor wellbeing is a global public health crisis. In Wales, 1 in 10 children between the ages of 5 and 16 has a mental health problem and 7% of NHS Wales expenditure is spent on adolescent mental ill health (2017-2018). There is growing evidence to support which aspects of the neighbourhoods in which we live support or are detrimental for mental health in adults but there is a lack of evidence for adolescents. Making changes to our neighbourhoods to be supportive of good mental health (such as places to be physically active or quiet tranquil areas which promote mental wellbeing) has the potential to benefit large numbers of people and to see population-level improvements in adolescent mental health.
Aims and Objectives
This project will examine associations between aspects of the built-environment (BE) and adolescent (aged 10-19 years old) mental health to discover the most modifiable salutogenic aspects of the BE to inform Welsh local authority and government planners and work towards evaluations of interventions. The study will explore how relationships vary by urban/rural regions, sex, age, ethnicity and socioeconomic status.
This quantitative longitudinal record linkage study will use advanced Geographical Information Systems (GIS) modelling techniques and existing electronic health records (EHRs) to evaluate the impact of the BE on adolescent mental health. Using routinely collected administrative datasets (e.g. Local Government audits), mapping agency data and Earth Observation data, I will create individually- tailored measures for specific BE features for adolescents (e.g. access to parks, alcohol outlets, sports facilities, pollution). I will link these measures with anonymised heath, demographic and survey data in secure data linkage safe havens in Wales (Secure Anonymised Information Linkage Databank – SAIL – through the Adolescent Data Platform gateway) and Toronto (Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences -ICES). I will investigate whether key BE characteristics have an impact on the mental health of adolescents living in Wales and Toronto (Canada). Harmonised and contextually modified BE measures will be linked with health data in Wales and Toronto to provide evidence of where generalisations are appropriate and where tailored policies or interventions should be implemented. (By Amy Mizen)
Further Information and Publications