The natural environment as well as housing and the built environment can influence mental health. What remains to be studied in more detail are the effects of socio-spatial conditions on the living environments of people with mental health issues. In Austria and neighbouring regions, a considerable number of communal and inclusive housing projects have emerged in recent years. Some of these projects are concerned with the inclusion of diverse social groups such as people with physical, sensory and cognitive impairments, elderly people and people who have experienced flight or migration. Comparatively few of these projects deal with the inclusion of people with mental health issues.

Against this background, three Lower Austrian universities, the University for Continuing Education Krems, the Bertha von Suttner Private University and the St. Pölten University of Applied Sciences have joined forces with the social organisation Psychosoziale Zentren (PSZ gGmbh) to form the SPUR consortium. PSZ gGmbh provides care and consultation for people with mental health issues in Lower Austria. The research project runs from February 2023 to January 2026 and is funded by the Gesellschaft für Forschungsförderung Niederösterreich m.b.H. (GFF) as part of their basic research programme track on research, technology and innovations.

The research project SPUR focusses on the socio-spatial framework conditions for communal and inclusive forms of housing for people with mental health issues in rural areas in Lower Austria.

To date, there has been little research on communal and inclusive housing projects in rural areas in Austria. The few available findings suggest potentials in combining affordable housing with preservation and creation of social infrastructure. Cohousing can therefore serve as a promising planning approach, especially in marginalised rural areas with a decreasing population.

Within the project various qualitative and participatory research methods will be applied to identify socio-spatial factors that influence the recovery process of mental illness.

The aim is to use these findings to develop recommendations for existing or future communal housing projects so that people with mental health issues can live their lives in a self-determined way, recover and receive support and treatment in their own home.

Mental health experts by experience, i.e. people who have experienced and lived through a mental illness, are involved throughout the entire research project. These co-researchers are referred to as core citizen scientists. PSZ gGmbh is also involved in the implementation of the research project. In addition to the co-researchers, various interested citizens, so-called citizen scientists, are involved in the research process on a selective basis. Citizen scientists in the SPUR project are people with mental health issues and their relatives, employees of social and medical services, other experts and stakeholders from local communities, politics, administration and non-profit housing.

In addition to investigating socio-spatial framework conditions, the research project also aims to develop concrete models for inclusive housing for people with mental health issues and prepare their operationalisation.

Back to top