The rise of urban population globally, is a matter of serious concern with regard to mental health all across the globe. As the world becomes progressively urbanized, built environment professionals are unquestionably more bothered about the plausible influence of urban environments on the mental wellbeing of the inhabitants. Literature indicates that urban environments may be directly affecting mental wellbeing. It further states that the concept of mental wellbeing incorporates three interrelated types of
wellbeing- hedonic, psychological and social wellbeing. The psychological and social are two aspects which are collectively termed as the eudemonic wellbeing. Research has also concluded that hedonic wellbeing may depend on individually determined positive mental states and hence may be the result of short-lived effects such as the achievement of pleasure and avoidance of pain. However, the eudemonic well-being tends to be linked with lasting effects. An impressive amount of research on relations between urban environments and, mental wellbeing as a whole, has been conducted. Notwithstanding this substantial body of literature, little is known about the interaction of the urban environment specifically with each of the three wellbeing types, the hedonic, the psychological and the social. Social interaction, social networks, sense of community, participation in organized activities, trust and reciprocity, feelings of safety and also, sense of place attachment, all, do find a mention in past studies with regard to the assessment of the quality of built environment. And, the
indicators which help assess this quality, have also been categorically listed as, density, mixed land use, attractiveness, connectedness, legibility, accessibility, inclusiveness , maintenance , extent of natural surveillance and neighbourhood character. However, a complete and detailed focus on the urban environment characteristics which may be directly impacting social wellbeing, seems to have been neglected.
This study specifically focusses on social wellbeing and presents the identified indicators of the urban environment for social wellbeing, through the conduct of an extensive literature review of over a hundred selected scholarly articles. It further presents the categorization of these identified indicators under two heads, the physical and the social environment. A total of 32 indicators were identified under eight main heads of the ‘physical environment’, namely greenspaces, infrastructure, housing, spatial configuration, outdoor environment quality, urban design, transportation, density and, land use. Also, a total of nine indicators were identified under six main heads of the ‘social environment’, namely safety, quality of life,
social connectedness, life satisfaction and, sense of community. The study further categorizes the plausible positive and negative impacts of urban environments on the social wellbeing of its inhabitants, through these identified indicators.
The identification of these indicators, categorized under the physical and social environments of the urban scenario, is a step towards developing a methodology for assessing the impact of urban environments on social wellbeing. This methodology may further be a contribution towards mentally healthy city design.