Making cities mental health friendly for adolescents and young adults

Pamela Y. Collins, Moitreyee Sinha, Tessa Concepcion, George Patton, Thaisa Way, Layla McCay, Augustina Mensa-Kwao, Helen Herrman, Evelyne de Leeuw, Nalini Anand, Lukoye Atwoli, Nicole Bardikoff, Chantelle Booysen, Inés Bustamante, Yajun Chen, Kelly Davis, Tarun Dua, Nathaniel Foote, Matthew Hughsam, Damian JumaShisir Khanal, Manasi Kumar, Bina Lefkowitz, Peter McDermott, Modhurima Moitra, Yvonne Ochieng, Olayinka Omigbodun, Emily Queen, Jürgen Unützer, José Miguel Uribe-Restrepo, Miranda Wolpert, Lian Zeitz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Urban life shapes the mental health of city dwellers, and although cities provide access to health, education and economic gain, urban environments are often detrimental to mental health1,2. Increasing urbanization over the next three decades will be accompanied by a growing population of children and adolescents living in cities3. Shaping the aspects of urban life that influence youth mental health could have an enormous impact on adolescent well-being and adult trajectories4. We invited a multidisciplinary, global group of researchers, practitioners, advocates and young people to complete sequential surveys to identify and prioritize the characteristics of a mental health-friendly city for young people. Here we show a set of ranked characteristic statements, grouped by personal, interpersonal, community, organizational, policy and environmental domains of intervention. Life skills for personal development, valuing and accepting young people’s ideas and choices, providing safe public space for social connection, employment and job security, centring youth input in urban planning and design, and addressing adverse social determinants were priorities by domain. We report the adversities that COVID-19 generated and link relevant actions to these data. Our findings highlight the need for intersectoral, multilevel intervention and for inclusive, equitable, participatory design of cities that support youth mental health.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)137-148
Number of pages12
Issue number8002
Publication statusPublished - 7 Mar 2024


Dive into the research topics of 'Making cities mental health friendly for adolescents and young adults'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this