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Special Issue "Frontiers in Mental Health and the Environment"

A special issue of International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health (ISSN 1660-4601).

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (30 August 2018) | Viewed by 55403

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A printed edition of this Special Issue is available here.

Special Issue Editor

Dr. Marco Helbich
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Department of Human Geography and Spatial Planning, Utrecht University, 3584 CB Utrecht, The Netherlands
Interests: spatial and spatiotemporal analyses; computational urban geography; GIS modeling; real estate economics; active transportation; built and natural environment; health geography
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Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

One out of five grown-ups suffered from a mental disorder within the past year, on a global scale. With a lifetime prevalence of two out of seven adults, mental disorders will remain a leading cause of disease burden (see Steel Z et al. The global prevalence of common mental disorders: a systematic review and meta-analysis 1980–2013. Int. J. Epidemiol. 2014, 43(2): 476–493). While mental disorders have devastating consequences for people’s quality of life, they also represent striking challenges for health systems as a whole. Thus, the reduction of mental disorders is a health priority in both developed but also developing countries.

Past research has well-documented that mental disorders emerge as a complex interplay between genetic, psychological, and lifestyle factors, among others. However, throughout a day and over the life course, humans are continuously exposed to social and physical environments including green space, noise, air pollution, etc. Such environmental factors have received scant attention thus far and our existing understanding is tentative, partly inconclusive, and calls for more research dealing with which, how, and to what extent environmental exposures, individually or in combination, affect mental health.

To address this research gap, we organizing a Special Issue on Mental Health and Environmental Exposures in the peer-reviewed scientific journal the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health. In order to initiate and further stimulate discussions on this topic, we invite original research, methodological papers, reviews, as well as meta-analyses related to the entire spectrum of mental disorders (e.g., depression, schizophrenia). In addition, we will also feature papers documenting how scientific findings translate into prevention strategies, health policies, and clinical practices.

Complementing traditional health and epidemiological research, significant contributions can be expected from transdisciplinary approaches integrating health (register) data, increasingly available environmental data in tandem with geotechnologies (e.g., geographic information systems) and cutting-edge data analytics (e.g., machine learning, Bayesian spatial and space-time models). This Special Issue is of great interest to both scientific communities and policy-makers. We hope that the contributions will support evidence-based public health policies in the long term.

Dr. Marco Helbich
Guest Editor

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All submissions that pass pre-check are peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health is an international peer-reviewed open access semimonthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 2500 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • mental disorders
  • epidemiology
  • exposures
  • risk assessment
  • environments
  • neighborhood effects
  • activity pattern
  • life course
  • inequalities
  • environmental data
  • modelling
  • geotechnologies
  • GIS
  • data analytics

Published Papers (11 papers)

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Editorial

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Editorial
Mental Health and Environmental Exposures: An Editorial
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2018, 15(10), 2207; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph15102207 - 10 Oct 2018
Cited by 8 | Viewed by 3808
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Frontiers in Mental Health and the Environment)

Research

Jump to: Editorial

Article
Does Residential Green and Blue Space Promote Recovery in Psychotic Disorders? A Cross-Sectional Study in the Province of Utrecht, The Netherlands
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2018, 15(10), 2195; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph15102195 - 08 Oct 2018
Cited by 25 | Viewed by 3658
Abstract
Mental health is reportedly influenced by the presence of green and blue space in residential areas, but scientific evidence of a relation to psychotic disorders is scant. We put two hypotheses to the test: first, compared to the general population, psychiatric patients live [...] Read more.
Mental health is reportedly influenced by the presence of green and blue space in residential areas, but scientific evidence of a relation to psychotic disorders is scant. We put two hypotheses to the test: first, compared to the general population, psychiatric patients live in neighborhoods with less green and blue space; second, the amount of green and blue space is negatively associated with the duration of hospital admission. The study population consisted of 623 patients with psychotic disorders who had been admitted to the psychiatric ward of an academic hospital in Utrecht, The Netherlands from 2008 to 2016. Recovery was measured by length of stay. Structured patient data was linked to socio-economic status and the amount of green and blue space in the residential area. Associations were assessed by means of regression models controlling for confounding factors. Compared to the general population, psychiatric patients had a significantly lower amount of green space in their neighborhood. This result was not confirmed for blue space. Furthermore, no significant associations were found between green and blue space and the duration of hospital stay. In conclusion, previous studies focusing on other mental disorders, like anxiety or depression, found positive mental health effects of green and blue space in the neighborhood. We were not able to confirm significant effects among our study population on duration of admission, however. Future research focusing on psychotic patients could investigate the influence of exposure to green and blue space on other influences and outcomes on mental health. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Frontiers in Mental Health and the Environment)
Article
Weather and Suicide: A Decade Analysis in the Five Largest Capital Cities of Colombia
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2018, 15(7), 1313; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph15071313 - 22 Jun 2018
Cited by 18 | Viewed by 3507
Abstract
Historically, seasonal variations in suicide rates were thought to be associated with changes in weather. Most of this evidence however, is based on studies that were conducted in developed countries that are located outside the tropics. As such, it is necessary to examine [...] Read more.
Historically, seasonal variations in suicide rates were thought to be associated with changes in weather. Most of this evidence however, is based on studies that were conducted in developed countries that are located outside the tropics. As such, it is necessary to examine this association in developing countries, such as Colombia, which do not experience marked seasons. In addition, it is important to adjust for the effect of holidays when analyzing this association as they have been reported to be a relevant confounding factor. Our objective was to estimate the association between daily suicide incidence among men and women in five major Colombian cities (Bogotá, Medellin, Cali, Barranquilla, and Bucaramanga) and daily temperature and rainfall. For this purpose, we conducted a multi-city, multi-temporal ecological study from 2005 to 2015, using data from the suicide mortality registries (provided by the National Administrative Department of Statistics). Daily measurements of the two weather variables were obtained from the official historical registry of the meteorological station at each city airport. We used these data to estimate conditional Poisson models for daily suicide counts, stratifying by sex and adjusting for holidays. Although we found that none of the weather variable estimators could reject the null hypothesis, we uncovered an association between suicide incidence and long weekends in the total suicide model (Incidence Rate Ratio (IRR): 1.19, 95% confidence interval (CI): 1.04–1.23). We found no evidence of association between weather variables and suicide in Colombia. Our study is based on daily observations and it provides evidence of absence of this association in a tropical country that does not experience marked seasons. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Frontiers in Mental Health and the Environment)
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Article
The Relationship between Air Pollution and Depression in China: Is Neighbourhood Social Capital Protective?
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2018, 15(6), 1160; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph15061160 - 02 Jun 2018
Cited by 57 | Viewed by 5745
Abstract
There is increasing evidence from the developed world that air pollution is significantly related to residents’ depressive symptoms; however, the existence of such a relationship in developing countries such as China is still unclear. Furthermore, although neighbourhood social capital is beneficial for health, [...] Read more.
There is increasing evidence from the developed world that air pollution is significantly related to residents’ depressive symptoms; however, the existence of such a relationship in developing countries such as China is still unclear. Furthermore, although neighbourhood social capital is beneficial for health, whether it is a protective factor in the relationship between health and environment pollution remains unclear. Consequently, we examined the effects of cities’ PM2.5 concentrations on residents’ depressive symptoms and the moderating effects of neighbourhood social capital, using data from the 2016 wave of China Labourforce Dynamics Survey and the real-time remote inquiry website of Airborne Fine Particulate Matter and Air Quality Index. Results showed that PM2.5 concentrations and neighbourhood social capital may increase and decrease respondents’ depressive symptoms, respectively. Notably, neighbourhood social capital decreased the negative effect of PM2.5 concentrations on respondents’ depressive symptoms. These analyses contributed to the understanding of the effect of air pollution on mental health in China and confirmed that neighbourhood social capital were protective factors in the relationship between health and environment hazards. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Frontiers in Mental Health and the Environment)
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Communication
Preliminary Assessment of Hurricane Harvey Exposures and Mental Health Impact
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2018, 15(5), 974; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph15050974 - 13 May 2018
Cited by 42 | Viewed by 5143
Abstract
Hurricane Harvey made landfall in Houston, Texas on 25 August 2017, the psychological and physical effects of which are still unknown. We assessed hurricane exposure and the immediate mental health needs of the population to define public health priorities for a larger epidemiological [...] Read more.
Hurricane Harvey made landfall in Houston, Texas on 25 August 2017, the psychological and physical effects of which are still unknown. We assessed hurricane exposure and the immediate mental health needs of the population to define public health priorities for a larger epidemiological study. Convenience sampling was used to recruit participants (n = 41) from the greater Houston area aged ≥18 years. Participants completed a questionnaire about demographics, hurricane exposures, and physical/mental health. Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) was measured with the Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder Checklist-S (PCL-S; a score ≥30 indicated probable PTSD symptoms). The Patient Health Questionnaire-4 (PHQ-4) was used to assess symptoms of depression and generalized anxiety disorder. The average PTSD score was 32.9 (SD = 17.1); a total of 46% of participants met the threshold for probable PTSD. Increased overall hurricane exposure (adjusted odds ratio (ORadj) 1.42; 95% confidence interval (CI): 1.06–2.05) and property-related exposure (ORadj 1.53; 95% CI: 1.07–2.18) were both statistically significantly associated with increased odds of probable PTSD symptoms. A perception of chemical/toxin exposure due to Hurricane Harvey was reported by 44% of participants. A higher number of personal or property exposures were associated with greater mental health symptoms three weeks post-hurricane. This work has implications for the ongoing response to Hurricane Harvey and for assessing the immediate needs of the population. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Frontiers in Mental Health and the Environment)
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Article
An Ecological Study on the Spatially Varying Relationship between County-Level Suicide Rates and Altitude in the United States
by and
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2018, 15(4), 671; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph15040671 - 04 Apr 2018
Cited by 20 | Viewed by 5771
Abstract
Suicide is a serious but preventable public health issue. Several previous studies have revealed a positive association between altitude and suicide rates at the county level in the contiguous United States. We assessed the association between suicide rates and altitude using a cross-county [...] Read more.
Suicide is a serious but preventable public health issue. Several previous studies have revealed a positive association between altitude and suicide rates at the county level in the contiguous United States. We assessed the association between suicide rates and altitude using a cross-county ecological study design. Data on suicide rates were obtained from a Web-based Injury Statistics Query and Reporting System (WISQARS), maintained by the U.S. National Center for Injury Prevention and Control (NCIPC). Altitude data were collected from the United States Geological Survey (USGS). We employed an ordinary least square (OLS) regression to model the association between altitude and suicide rates in 3064 counties in the contiguous U.S. We conducted a geographically weighted regression (GWR) to examine the spatially varying relationship between suicide rates and altitude after controlling for several well-established covariates. A significant positive association between altitude and suicide rates (average county rates between 2008 and 2014) was found in the dataset in the OLS model (R2 = 0.483, p < 0.001). Our GWR model fitted the data better, as indicated by an improved R2 (average: 0.62; range: 0.21–0.64) and a lower Akaike Information Criteria (AIC) value (13,593.68 vs. 14,432.14 in the OLS model). The GWR model also significantly reduced the spatial autocorrelation, as indicated by Moran’s I test statistic (Moran’s I = 0.171; z = 33.656; p < 0.001 vs. Moran’s I = 0.323; z = 63.526; p < 0.001 in the OLS model). In addition, a stronger positive relationship was detected in areas of the northern regions, northern plain regions, and southeastern regions in the U.S. Our study confirmed a varying overall positive relationship between altitude and suicide. Future research may consider controlling more predictor variables in regression models, such as firearm ownership, religion, and access to mental health services. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Frontiers in Mental Health and the Environment)
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Article
Does Walkability Contribute to Geographic Variation in Psychosocial Distress? A Spatial Analysis of 91,142 Members of the 45 and Up Study in Sydney, Australia
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2018, 15(2), 275; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph15020275 - 06 Feb 2018
Cited by 8 | Viewed by 5016
Abstract
Walkability describes the capacity of the built environment to promote walking, and has been proposed as a potential focus for community-level mental health planning. We evaluated this possibility by examining the contribution of area-level walkability to variation in psychosocial distress in a population [...] Read more.
Walkability describes the capacity of the built environment to promote walking, and has been proposed as a potential focus for community-level mental health planning. We evaluated this possibility by examining the contribution of area-level walkability to variation in psychosocial distress in a population cohort at spatial scales comparable to those used for regional planning in Sydney, Australia. Data on psychosocial distress were analysed for 91,142 respondents to the 45 and Up Study baseline survey between January 2006 and April 2009. We fit conditional auto regression models at the postal area level to obtain smoothed “disease maps” for psychosocial distress, and assess its association with area-level walkability after adjusting for individual- and area-level factors. Prevalence of psychosocial distress was 7.8%; similar for low (7.9%), low-medium (7.9%), medium-high (8.0%), and high (7.4%) walkability areas; and decreased with reducing postal area socioeconomic disadvantage: 12.2% (most), 9.3%, 7.5%, 5.9%, and 4.7% (least). Unadjusted disease maps indicated strong geographic clustering of psychosocial distress with 99.0% of excess prevalence due to unobserved and spatially structured factors, which was reduced to 55.3% in fully adjusted maps. Spatial and unstructured variance decreased by 97.3% and 39.8% after adjusting for individual-level factors, and another 2.3% and 4.2% with the inclusions of area-level factors. Excess prevalence of psychosocial distress in postal areas was attenuated in adjusted models but remained spatially structured. Postal area prevalence of high psychosocial distress is geographically clustered in Sydney, but is unrelated to postal area walkability. Area-level socioeconomic disadvantage makes a small contribution to this spatial structure; however, community-level mental health planning will likely deliver greatest benefits by focusing on individual-level contributors to disease burden and inequality associated with psychosocial distress. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Frontiers in Mental Health and the Environment)
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Article
Exploring the Impacts of Housing Condition on Migrants’ Mental Health in Nanxiang, Shanghai: A Structural Equation Modelling Approach
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2018, 15(2), 225; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph15020225 - 29 Jan 2018
Cited by 29 | Viewed by 6195
Abstract
Although rapid urbanization and associated rural-to-urban migration has brought in enormous economic benefits in Chinese cities, one of the negative externalities include adverse effects upon the migrant workers’ mental health. The links between housing conditions and mental health are well-established in healthy city [...] Read more.
Although rapid urbanization and associated rural-to-urban migration has brought in enormous economic benefits in Chinese cities, one of the negative externalities include adverse effects upon the migrant workers’ mental health. The links between housing conditions and mental health are well-established in healthy city and community planning scholarship. Nonetheless, there has thusfar been no Chinese study deciphering the links between housing conditions and mental health accounting for macro-level community environments, and no study has previously examined the nature of the relationships in locals and migrants. To overcome this research gap, we hypothesized that housing conditions may have a direct and indirect effects upon mental which may be mediated by neighbourhood satisfaction. We tested this hypothesis with the help of a household survey of 368 adult participants in Nanxiang Town, Shanghai, employing a structural equation modeling approach. Our results point to the differential pathways via which housing conditions effect mental health in locals and migrants. For locals, housing conditions have direct effects on mental health, while as for migrants, housing conditions have indirect effects on mental health, mediated via neighborhood satisfaction. Our findings have significant policy implications on building an inclusive and harmonious society. Upstream-level community interventions in the form of sustainable planning and designing of migrant neighborhoods can promote sense of community, social capital and support, thereby improving mental health and overall mental capital of Chinese cities. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Frontiers in Mental Health and the Environment)
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Article
Depression in Intimate Partner Violence Victims in Slovenia: A Crippling Pattern of Factors Identified in Family Practice Attendees
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2018, 15(2), 210; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph15020210 - 26 Jan 2018
Cited by 8 | Viewed by 3077
Abstract
This multi-centre cross-sectional study explored associations between prevalence of depression and exposure to intimate partner violence (IPV) at any time in patients’ adult life in 471 participants of a previous IPV study. In 2016, 174 interviews were performed, using the Short Form Domestic [...] Read more.
This multi-centre cross-sectional study explored associations between prevalence of depression and exposure to intimate partner violence (IPV) at any time in patients’ adult life in 471 participants of a previous IPV study. In 2016, 174 interviews were performed, using the Short Form Domestic Violence Exposure Questionnaire, the Zung Scale and questions about behavioural patterns of exposure to IPV. Family doctors reviewed patients’ medical charts for period from 2012 to 2016, using the Domestic Violence Exposure Medical Chart Check List, for conditions which persisted for at least three years. Depression was found to be associated with any exposure to IPV in adult life and was more likely to affect women. In multivariable logistic regression modelling, factors associated with self-rated depression were identified (p < 0.05). Exposure to emotional and physical violence was identified as a risk factor in the first model, explaining 23% of the variance. The second model explained 66% of the variance; past divorce, dysfunctional family relationships and a history of incapacity to work increased the likelihood of depression in patients. Family doctors should consider IPV exposure when detecting depression, since lifetime IPV exposure was found to be 40.4% and 36.9% of depressed revealed it. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Frontiers in Mental Health and the Environment)
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Article
Green Space and Depression during Pregnancy: Results from the Growing Up in New Zealand Study
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2017, 14(9), 1083; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph14091083 - 18 Sep 2017
Cited by 15 | Viewed by 5363
Abstract
Background: Antenatal depression is an important contributor to poor maternal health experienced by some women. This study aimed to determine whether exposure to green space during pregnancy is associated with less depression, and whether this association is moderated by relevant factors, such [...] Read more.
Background: Antenatal depression is an important contributor to poor maternal health experienced by some women. This study aimed to determine whether exposure to green space during pregnancy is associated with less depression, and whether this association is moderated by relevant factors, such as age, education, self-identified ethnicity, physical activity, residential rurality, and socioeconomic status. Methods: Health data were sourced from the cohort study “Growing Up in New Zealand” comprised of 6772 participants. Green space was estimated based on the proportion of green space within the Census Area Unit. Adjusted logistic mixed effect models were used to investigate the association between green space and antenatal depression after controlling for confounding variables. Results: Maternal exposure to green space were not associated with lower odds of antenatal depression. Indications of effect modifications due to relevant factors were not observed. Conclusions: This study did not determine an association between access to green space (measured based on the distance to the nearest green space) and antenatal depression. Therefore, a link between green space and antenatal depression was not established. For that reason, ensuring residential areas contain adequate green space may or may not be helpful in preventing antenatal depression and adverse health outcomes associated with this depression. More studies focusing on pregnant women in a range of social contexts, and considering both exposure and access to green space, are warranted to determine the relationships between green space and antenatal depression. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Frontiers in Mental Health and the Environment)
Article
Longitudinal Impact of Hurricane Sandy Exposure on Mental Health Symptoms
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2017, 14(9), 957; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph14090957 - 24 Aug 2017
Cited by 59 | Viewed by 7238
Abstract
Hurricane Sandy hit the eastern coast of the United States in October 2012, causing billions of dollars in damage and acute physical and mental health problems. The long-term mental health consequences of the storm and their predictors have not been studied. New York [...] Read more.
Hurricane Sandy hit the eastern coast of the United States in October 2012, causing billions of dollars in damage and acute physical and mental health problems. The long-term mental health consequences of the storm and their predictors have not been studied. New York City and Long Island residents completed questionnaires regarding their initial Hurricane Sandy exposure and mental health symptoms at baseline and 1 year later (N = 130). There were statistically significant decreases in anxiety scores (mean difference = −0.33, p < 0.01) and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) scores (mean difference = −1.98, p = 0.001) between baseline and follow-up. Experiencing a combination of personal and property damage was positively associated with long-term PTSD symptoms (ORadj 1.2, 95% CI [1.1–1.4]) but not with anxiety or depression. Having anxiety, depression, or PTSD at baseline was a significant predictor of persistent anxiety (ORadj 2.8 95% CI [1.1–6.8], depression (ORadj 7.4 95% CI [2.3–24.1) and PTSD (ORadj 4.1 95% CI [1.1–14.6]) at follow-up. Exposure to Hurricane Sandy has an impact on PTSD symptoms that persists over time. Given the likelihood of more frequent and intense hurricanes due to climate change, future hurricane recovery efforts must consider the long-term effects of hurricane exposure on mental health, especially on PTSD, when providing appropriate assistance and treatment. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Frontiers in Mental Health and the Environment)
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