The Role of Neighborhood Environmental Quality in Maintaining the Citizens' Mental Health during the Covid-19 Epidemic (Case Study: Kermanshah City)

Document Type : Applied Article


1 Architecture Department, Faculty of Engineering, Razi University, Kermanshah, Iran

2 Urbanism Department, Faculty of Art & Architecture, Persian Gulf University, Bushehr, Iran


The worldwide challenge of Covid-19 disease (especially in 2020 and 2021) and concerns about its consequences on people's mental health, once again drew attention to improving the quality of the urban environment. In fact, the policies of governments in the face of the Covid-19 pandemic, which were mainly in the form of quarantine, banning people from attending crowded centers, telecommuting, e-learning, etc., have raised concerns about the consequences of such policies on people's mental health. In other words, during the Covid-19 Crisis, it is felt that familiar, vibrant, and social public spaces are lost. This issue caused the present study to be based on the role of urban neighborhoods in maintaining the mental health of citizens during the Covid-19 epidemic. Accordingly, the present study answers the following two questions:

What are the environmental variables affecting the mental health of people in the neighborhood scale?
During the Covid-19 epidemic, which environmental factors in cities have played a more prominent role in maintaining the mental health of society?

Materials and Methods
The present research is a descriptive-analytical study based on documentary studies and field surveys. The purpose of this study is to evaluate the relationship between environmental factors and the mental health of citizens during the Covid-19 epidemic. Therefore, awareness of the environmental factors in the city and the mental health of citizens is a prelude to achieving the research goal. At first, in order to estimate the status of environmental factors, related indicators have been extracted from reliable sources, which has led to a total of 23 indicators. On the other hand, in order to assess the mental health status of citizens, the Dass-21 standard questionnaire was used. Therefore, each respondent must answer two questionnaires, including 1- Environmental Factors Questionnaire and 2- Dass-21 Mental Health Questionnaire. The Environmental Factors Questionnaire includes a set of closed questions that have been compiled based on the indicators extracted from previous scientific articles. The question options are based on a 5-point Likert scale. As this questionnaire is a researcher-made type, so it is necessary to check its validity and reliability. The validity of the questions was checked through interviews with experts and the reliability was confirmed according to the Cronbach's alpha test (0.846) for the first 30 questionnaires. The Dass-21 questionnaire, which is known as a standard questionnaire in the field of mental health, has been used with the environmental factors’ questionnaire at the same time.
In order to test the research hypotheses, the city of Kermanshah has been selected as the case study and the citizens of Kermanshah have been selected as the statistical society. The sample size based on Cochran's formula and values ​​of p = q = 0.5 and d = 0.07 was almost equal to 200 people, which was selected randomly among the residents of this city. After completing the questionnaires of environmental factors and mental health, the data was entered in SPSS software. Environmental variables are first categorized using exploratory factor analysis model. Also, the values ​​of three components of stress, anxiety and depression were calculated based on the Dass-21 questionnaire. In the following, the focal correlation coefficient has been investigated between environmental factors and mental health components.
Discussion and Results
The variables that explain the subject were summarized in the form of 5 factors including "functional structure", "environmental comfort", " quality of urban space", "visual image" and "social scape". Considering that the total cumulative variance of the five factors is equal to 60.185, it can be said that about 60% of the efficiency of the variables in explaining the environmental quality of urban neighborhoods is confirmed, which is an acceptable statistic. In the following, the correlation of these factors with the three components of mental health has been investigated. For this purpose, Focal Correlation analysis has been used in SPSS software. In the first focal, the correlation coefficient between the two concepts of environmental quality and mental health is equal to 0.563 and the corresponding significant value (Sig.) is less than 0.05. The square of the focal correlation coefficient is called the focal root, which is equal to 0.317, it means the main variables related to environmental quality predict and explain about 31.7% of the changes in the main variables of mental health.
By calculating the square of the focal loads, the role of each factor in predicting the variance of mental health can be understood. Based on this, it can be said that the first factor is about 51%, the second factor is about 17%, the third factor is about 23%, the fourth factor is about 50% and the fifth factor is about 7% of the variance of mental health.
Findings show that the environmental quality of neighborhoods can be classified into 5 factors: "functional structure", "environmental comfort", " quality of urban space", "visual image" and "social scape". On the other hand, mental health was obtained based on the Dass-21 questionnaire in the form of three components: "stress", "anxiety" and "depression". In the following, the focal correlation between 5 environmental quality factors and 3 components of mental health has been investigated and the findings confirm the correlation between them.
According to the research findings, some macro strategies are suggested as follows:
- Organizing the space structure of Kermanshah neighborhoods based on meeting the daily and weekly needs of the people on a local scale.
- Recreating the structure and configuration of the neighborhoods of Kermanshah with the approach of improving pedestrianization.
- Improving the visual image of neighborhoods through cleanliness of the environment, improving the brightness of streets, maintaining and promoting key elements and identity building.
- Improving the legibility of neighborhoods by eliminating the shortcomings of the five elements of path, node, edge, landmark and district.
- Increasing the sense of responsibility of the people by encouraging the people participation.


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