Even if you are not consciously aware of this, the environment in which we live can affect us, and not just aesthetically. It can hurt or help our health and our mental well-being in a variety of ways.
Of course, smog, emissions, and other harmful air pollutants of the urban areas can lead and contribute to serious health issues—including life-threatening health problems including heart disease, lung cancer, and even stroke—but that’s not all.
There are also hazardous waste materials—trash such as batteries, old computer or printer parts, broken or unbroken glasses—which get left behind or were improperly disposed of by previous owners.
If these are lying around on your property or surrounding areas—on the curbs, abandoned lots—it can lead to cuts, infections, and other accidental injuries. It can even poison the soil or water, affecting not only you and other people but also the wildlife and plants.
The environment can not only affect our physical health but some elements also affect our mental well-being.
For example, an overcrowded city has many noises throughout it—cars stuck in traffic and honking their horns, the loud sirens of the ambulance or police cars, your neighbors blasting their music and television—that often causes us irritation and stress.
A more subtle example is the feeling of sensory overload some people may feel in a cluttered or disorganized interior or exterior home environment. Dark or dimly lit places can also affect an alarm response. When a person feels unsafe, the sense of security that is essential for a person’s well-being and health is denied. Anxiety and chronic stress levels may increase.
Such negative environments also may affect one’s mental health, causing negative feelings that can trigger higher levels of stress, social isolation, and mental fatigue, and may develop into anxiety, depression, or other mental illnesses.
The Dangers of Mental Illness
Mental illness is a dangerous disease that affects the lives of millions of people, according to government statistics. In 2016, about 18.3 percent or 44.7 million Americans aged 18 and above suffered from mental illness.
Among the factors that can contribute to the development of mental illnesses are unfortunate life events (dysfunctional family, sexual or physical abuse, poverty), trauma and post-traumatic stress, nutrient deficiency, social, psychological, biological (genetics, disease), and even toxins in the environment.
The longer these factors remain uncorrected, the longer it takes to receive treatment for the mental health consequences, the worse the condition may become and the harder to treat and recover from.
Mental illness affects our daily activities to varying degrees, from mild to severe. It can negatively impact our work, school, and social lives, causing instability. It can lead to chronic pain and other physical health issues and even, in severe cases, to life-threatening situations.
For one thing, in an attempt to self-medicate for mental health problems, many people turn to alcohol, drugs, and other substances, leading to addiction on top of mental illness: dual diagnosis, a more difficult condition to treat.
Mental health can be improved and addiction prevented by addressing the factors which contribute to the illness. Landscape architecture has rehabilitated physically toxic sites. It also can rehabilitate mental landscapes.
Author Bio: Patrick Bailey is a professional writer mainly in the fields of mental health, addiction, and living in recovery. He attempts to stay on top of the latest news in the addiction and the mental health world and enjoy writing about these topics to break the stigma associated with them.