Are feelings of peace or depression the drivers of the relationship between neighbourhood social fragmentation and mental health in Aotearoa/New Zealand?Health Place. 2013 Nov 27;26C:1-6
Authors: Pearson AL, Ivory V, Breetzke G, Lovasi GS
Exploration of the influence of neighbourhood social context on supportive relationships and social cohesion is on the rise. Positive social contexts may be less stressful for residents, resulting in mental wellbeing and calmness; whereas negative contexts may increase stress and deleterious mental health. To examine this, we measured the relationship between an Index of Neighbourhood Social Fragmentation and overall mental well-being in New Zealand. Then we examined the influence of fragmentation on two components of mental health: depression and calmness. Increased fragmentation was significantly associated with lower mental health scores for the entire population and for females, with similar but insignificant trends for males. Increased fragmentation was associated with increased depression in both sexes, but not calmness. Depression rather than calmness may contribute to the observed association between fragmentation and overall mental health. Groups vulnerable to stressful social contexts may be prone to depression in fragmented neighbourhoods. Further examination of the specific aspects of living in fragmented neighbourhoods which increase depressive feelings is warranted.