Home Headlines Merida sunk in depression: Expert says mental health is at risk due to urban growth

Merida sunk in depression: Expert says mental health is at risk due to urban growth

by Magali Alvarez

More than 50 percent of the population of Mérida has symptoms of stress due to the traffic chaos generated by the excessive and disorderly growth of the city and motor vehicles.

The Observatorio de la Salud Integral, directed by Jorge Zavala Castro, former director of the Hideyo-Noguchi Research Center, pointed out that a recent survey revealed that 38 percent of the people, as a consequence of stress, have occasional insomnia; 10 percent, recurrent insomnia; and 15 percent, mild or severe symptoms of depression.

POR ESTO! published yesterday that Mérida is on the verge of collapse, that urban growth is slipping out of the hands of Mayor Renán Barrera, who has been governing the city for almost 10 years, but has been unable to curb urban problems. According to the registry of motor vehicles of the National Institute of Statistics and Geography (INEGI), in 2012 there were 575,850 units in the entity, but in 2022 it reached 994,656, that is, it grew by 418,806, or 72.7 percent in 10 years.

The official data shows the “explosion” in the number of units which, from Dr. Zavala’s perspective, is making people sick. He said that the conditions of disproportionate and disorganized urban growth are an important factor in asking whether Mérida is depressed. For this reason, he stressed that international studies show that in large cities that have grown without adequate planning, the percentage of citizens with mental disorders such as anxiety, depression, suicide, among others, increases.

He said that Mérida is heading towards a health catastrophe: “I do not rule out serious problems such as schizophrenia, bipolarity and dysthymia, which are other mental illnesses that have a significant presence in our state,” he added.

In addition, in the last 30 years, the urban area of Mérida almost doubled, from 8,121 hectares in 1990 to 15,388 in 2019, a growth of 89 percent. But that was up to 2019. The most recent data from Inegi point to growth of 2.2 percent, and in terms of surface area, urban expansion was seven thousand 267 hectares, almost double what it was three decades ago.

Meanwhile, the 2020 Population and Housing Census shows that the state’s growth reached 2,320,898 inhabitants, with an annual growth rate of 1.8 percent. Mérida has 995,129 inhabitants, and applying the annual growth percentage of 1.8 percent, the city would have more than 1,29,000 inhabitants by 2023.

Mérida’s urban growth is also linked to environmental damage, to massive deforestation that cannot be equated to attempts at reforestation with ornamental trees in avenues.

Zavala Castro mentioned that the World Health Organization, in its chapter on Urban Health, mentions the need for one tree for every three inhabitants and a minimum green area of 9 square meters (m2) per inhabitant, with 16 m2 as the ideal for the best well-being of citizens, and the most important thing is that it is strategically distributed in the city, and not only in some areas, especially in the periphery.

According to the population of Merida (more than one million) translates into 16 million m2 that are necessary to establish the conditions of well-being of the inhabitants and comply with international ecological indicators. “I don’t know if Merida complies with these parameters,” he added.

TYT Newsroom

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