Send to

Choose Destination
Scand J Soc Med. 1976;4(1):45-51.

Mental health and housing.


With the present trend away from the designing of individual buildings and towards the systematic planning of whole residential communities, it should be possible to take mental health requirements into account at the planning stage. At present, sociologists are all too seldom consulted on matters of residential planning. When discussing the relationship between housing and mental health one cannot restrict oneself only to the external aspects of the house, but rather one must also consider the opportunities available for the members of the family to satisfy their own needs, both within the home and in its immediate surroundings. Factors which may affect residential requirements include geographical location, type and standard of dwelling and time and continuity of occupation. A move between two districts or groups representing different housing norms and values may lead to withdrawal symptoms in the individual. This may arise equally well from the remoteness of the country districts as from the conflicting pressures brought on by the abundance of contacts available in the large towns. Town life tends to heighten susceptibility to neuroses and personality conflicts. The character of a residential area may affect the mental health of its occupants. Faris & Dunham (4), in studying the incidence of various types of mental illness with an urban population, observed that schizophrenia was most common among people who were in some way isolated from social involvement. The striving for spaciousness in residential areas and the creation of a "summer city" or "garden city" image or a "family-centred way of life" may lead to unexpected problems and have a variety of social consequences. Mental health difficulties have been noted, for example, among housewives in "dormitory" towns or suburbs (11). The institutions required by a community may be grouped into four categories, representing the basic needs of its members. These are (1) economic institutions, (2) social and political organizations, (3) leisure-time clubs and (4) societies and institutions for promoting social integration, including educational, advisory and assistance bodies. The study of satiation processes offers an interesting approach to the relationship between housing and mental health. Man requires new stimuli to motivate him. Boredom and satiation serve to induce passivity and may provoke destructive behaviour and escapism. Finland has the highest percentage of dwellings constructed in the immediate post-war period of any country in Europe, and in respect of the functions of housing many aspects are still apparent which are detrimental to mental health.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

Supplemental Content

Loading ...
Support Center