Robin Mazumder: “I’m really curious about how living in a city impacts your mental health”

What if urban planners started viewing themselves as part of a community’s health care team? That’s what Robin Mazumder, a Vanier Scholar and doctoral candidate in cognitive neuroscience at the University of Waterloo, would like to see.

Mazumder, a former occupational therapist, started researching the psychological impacts of urban design after working in the mental health field in Toronto and Edmonton.

“I worked in the downtown cores of cities for about five years with people with various mental health issues,” he says, “and during that time, I just really wondered if and how living in a city exacerbated people’s mental health issues or caused them.”

For Mazumder, it’s just the latest way he’s been involved in community-building, along with installing light therapy lamps in public libraries to make mental health care accessible and creating pop-up bike lanes to promote cycling infrastructure.

“I think there’s more to a city than we’ve thought of in the past, and I’m just trying to uncover that,” he says.

I think if we’re intentional and thoughtful about it, then they can be places that are healthy and happy.”