More than jobs and houses: mental health, quality of life and the perceptions of locality in an area undergoing urban regeneration
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Urban regeneration initiatives are considered to be one means of making a contribution to improving people’s quality of life and mental health. This paper considers the relationship between lay perceptions of locality adversity, mental health and social capital in an area undergoing urban regeneration.
Using qualitative methods as part of a larger multi-method study, perceptions of material, and non-material aspects of the locality and the way in which people vulnerable to mental health problems coped with living in adversity were identified as being more highly valued than intended or actual changes to structural elements such as the provision of housing or employment.
Themes derived from narrative accounts included concerns about the absence of social control in the locality, the reputation of the area, a lack of faith in local agencies to make changes considered important to local residents, a reliance on personal coping strategies to manage adversity and perceived threats to mental health which reinforced a sense of social isolation. We suggest these elements are implicated in restricting opportunities and enhancing feelings of ‘entrapment’ contributing to low levels of local collective efficacy. The gap between social capital capacity at an individual level and links with collective community resources may in part have accounted for the absence of improvements in mental health during the early life of the urban regeneration initiative.
In order to enhance quality of life or mental health, agencies involved in urban initiatives need as a basic minimum to promote security, increase leisure opportunities, and improve the image of the locality.
Key wordsurban regeneration mental health quality of life UK social housing
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