How come the most densely populated areas in the world are also some of the loneliest? What makes cities so exciting and liveable, yet for some so unforgiving? Cities are associated with higher rates of most mental health problems compared to rural areas: an almost 40% higher risk of depression, over 20% more anxiety, and double the risk of schizophrenia, in addition to more loneliness, isolation and stress* – yet all over the world we flock to them in ever greater numbers.
Can we design our cities to make them more supportive of people and conducive to mental health and wellbeing? What part do residents and communities play in co-designing new solutions?
This was the topic at this year's Design Manchester debate about design and society chaired by Kasper de Graaf, organised this year in partnership with SICK! Festivalin Manchester and Rotterdam's Kunstinstituut Melly.
On the panel were Ellen van Loon, Partner at OMA (Office for Metropolitan Architecture) and lead architect of Factory Manchester, Said Kasmi, Deputy Mayor for Education, Culture and Tourism for the City of Rotterdam, Leena Haque, Neurodiversity Lead at BBC CAPE, Dave Moutrey, the CEO of HOME Manchester and Director of Culture for the City of Manchester, and the Dutch artist Jan Rothuizen who contributed to SICK! Festival's Mindscapes project.