we talk about health the first thing that comes in our mind is physical health.
However, we need to understand that mental health is also equally important for
us. For many years we have been following – A healthy body holds a healthy mind
but it’s the time to reverse the slogan. The mind is the hidden master of our
illness contributes significantly to the global burden of mental disorders. It
is therefore important to grasp how and to what extent environmental exposures
affect our mental health. Mental disorders have a lifetime prevalence of two
out of seven adults and will continue to remain a leading cause of disease
burden. Such disorders have devastating consequences on the quality of life and
also a striking challenge for health systems as a whole. Therefore, the
reduction of mental disorders is a health priority in both developed and
developing countries. This article is dedicated to the environmental factors
that lead to stress and other mental health issues.
World Health Organization (WHO), defines mental health as:
a state of well-being in which the individual realizes his or her own abilities
can cope with the normal stresses of life can work productively and fruitfully,
and is able to make a contribution to his or her community."
health includes emotional, psychological, and social well-being. It affects how
we think, feel, and act. It also helps determine how we handle stress, relate
to others, and our decisions. Mental health is important at every stage of
life, from childhood to old age.
health is not all about what’s going on inside our head. What’s happening
outside our head is also important. From a cluttered bedroom to a poorly-lit
office to the view from a window — it can all impact your well-being and state
physical environment directly impacts our psychological health. That’s why we
often think about what’s around us. And all that external stimuli has an
effect! Maybe the laundry hasn’t been folded in three days, and it bugs you
every time you go to bed. Or, our kitchen is dark and gloomy, and so cooking
dinner makes us bore.
our surroundings can dramatically improve your mental health. However, until
now the role of a healthy environment plays in safeguarding human health had
been greatly neglected. Although, things are changing as both citizens and
government are now realizing that by helping nature we also improve our
is well-documented that human mental health emerges from a complex interplay
between genetic, psychological, lifestyle, and other factors. In addition,
people are also exposed to numerous environments. These environmental exposures
(e.g., air pollution, noise, green space, weather conditions, and housing
conditions) might trigger mental disorders or be protective factors,
facilitating stress reduction, mental recovery, etc. In this article,
“environmental exposure” is understood in the broader sense.
increase in air pollution due to rapid and heavy urbanization is one of the
biggest environmental threats. It is particularly harmful to mankind, both
physically—through damage to our lungs, heart, etc.—and mentally as well. There
is now growing evidence of a link between certain air pollutants and mental
illnesses such as depression, dementia, anxiety and suicide. The risk is
especially high among young people living in urban areas. Contaminated dust
from chipping, lead-based paint in poor quality, older homes, is a major route
of lead exposure in children. Local governments can play a key role in tackling
the mental health crisis by reducing air pollution, enhancing the availability
of green cover or establishing electric and non-motorized transport
and other heavy metals are toxic to our nervous system. Even very low levels of
lead, manganese, cadmium, polyaromatic hydrocarbons and organophosphate
pesticides concentration in blood may be associated with irritability,
depression, anxiety in adults and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder
(ADHD) decreased intelligence, behavioural difficulties and learning problems
Crowds and loud noises
have shown that crowded rooms and loud exterior noises lead to higher rates of
sleep deprivation, stress and anxiety disorders. Researchers have found that
living in a city boosts activity in your amygdala - the part of our brain
that’s associated with memory and emotional intelligence - and is affected when
someone encroaches on our precious personal space.
lack of natural light can lead to seasonal affective disorder (SAD) - a type of
depression also known as “winter blue”. But it’s not just winter lighting that
can affect your mood. Our office lighting might put us down in the dumps, too.
Poor lighting in offices and homes can lead to a range of mental disorders like
stress, irritability and anxiety, especially when paired with a high-pressure
type (e.g., high-rise), floor level, and housing quality (e.g., structural
problems) have all been linked to mental health. High-rise, multiple dwelling
units are inimical to the psychological well-being of mothers with young
children and possibly that of young children themselves. These effects seem
particularly pronounced among low-income families. They tend to psychological
distress that incorporates subclinical symptoms of anxiety and depression.
Suspected reasons for the link between high-rise housing and psychological
distress are social isolation of mothers and restricted play opportunities for
children. In many high-rise buildings, particularly for low-income families,
insufficient resources are allotted to spaces that afford the development and
maintenance of social networks. Lobbies, lounges, and other small-group spaces
are absent or located too far from residences or in public areas that afford
insufficient residential control and feelings of ownership (e.g., public lobby
upon entrance). Women in large, high-rise housing developments report more
loneliness and diminished territorial control in comparison to women of similar
backgrounds living in other types of housing.
It has been seen that increased green cover or parks and gardens often helps in promoting positivity on individuals and can be a catalyst in reducing mental health problems. The increased green cover act as the lung of nature helping in reducing the pollution and relieving from stress. Improving the quality of air, water, noise, housing condition and surrounding could make us more relax and stress-free.
About the Author: Dr. Sachchidanand Singh
Dr. Sachchidanand Singh, completed MBBS from Patna Medical College, Patna in 2007 and MD - psychiatry from Central Institute Of Psychiatry in 2013 . His expertise on the field of Depression, Anxiety, Phobia, Mood Disorder, Schizophrenia, De- Addiction, Headache, Epilepsy and other Psychiatric illnesses help people of Bihar to fight with mental illness.