Document Type



Internal Medicine (East Africa); Brain and Mind Institute


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.

Publication (Name of Journal)



Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.