Urban and non-urban differences in community living and participation among individuals with serious mental illnessesedit
Despite a wealth of studies examining the relationship between urbanicity (i.e., living in an urban area) and psychological distress, there is a paucity of research examining the relationship between urbanicity, community living, and community participation of adults with serious mental illnesses. This study addresses this knowledge gap by assessing urban and non-urban differences in community participation, sense of community, mental health stigma, and perceptions of the neighborhood environment among individuals with serious mental illnesses living independently throughout the United States. A total of 300 individuals with serious mental illnesses recruited from 21 outpatient mental health service organizations in 15 states completed a phone survey about their community living and participation experiences. Urbanicity was examined at two spatial scales (block group and county), and independent-samples t-tests were employed to assess urban and non-urban differences in community living and participation variables. Levels of community participation and perceptions of neighborhood quality and crime were higher in urban block groups; sense of community was higher in urban counties; and perceptions of mental health stigma were higher in non-urban counties. Results inform the methodological literature on best practices for assessing urbanicity, as well as interventions aimed at increasing community participation and improving aspects of the built and social environment that affect individuals who experience mental health distress.