Children’s Resilience and Mental Health in the Urban Context

Authored by: Maureen Mooney

Handbook of Global Urban Health

Print publication date:  May  2019
Online publication date:  May  2019

Print ISBN: 9781138206250
eBook ISBN: 9781315465456
Adobe ISBN:

10.4324/9781315465456-15

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Abstract

By 2050, two-thirds of the world’s population are projected to be city dwellers. Most children will grow up in urban contexts. Within the urban context, children interact with multiple systems of relationships, as well as physical and socio-economic contexts that influence their health as they develop. This chapter investigates children’s interdependent relationship with their urban community, focusing on how urban living influences their resilience capacities, well-being, and health. Children’s resilience develops from their positive adaptation to experiences of challenge or adversity, and is demonstrated by culturally defined good mental health and developmental outcomes, despite exposure to significant adversity. Children exhibiting resilience employ their internal capacities to cope and adapt, but they also interact with, and need support, resources, and access to resources from, their communities. The chapter examines risk and resource elements in urban environments, and provides an example of a disaster as a complex urban risk context, where a functioning urban environment can be overwhelmed and needs to adapt. Understanding children’s health and resilience, when they and their urban contexts face disasters, allows us to understand processes in protecting and supporting children. The evidence base of interventions that foster children’s positive adaptation and enhance well-being follows, although more research is needed from developing world urban contexts. A challenge for urban leaders and planners is how best to build resources and reduce barriers to access so that the urban context is an inclusive and enabling setting in which children can thrive, particularly as improvement of a child’s environment and identification of gaps can be as effective as individually oriented interventions for supporting children’s health and well-being.

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