Mean Streets and Mental Health: Depression and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder at Crime Hot Spots

David Weisburd, Breanne Cave, Matthew Nelson, Clair White, Amelia Haviland, Justin Ready, Brian Lawton, Kathleen Sikkema

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

53 Scopus citations


This study explores the relationship between mental health and place at microgeographic units of analysis. We examine self-reported symptomology for depression and PTSD for 2,724 survey respondents interviewed in three types of randomly selected street segments: violent crime hot spots, cool spots, and cold spots. We find that the mean symptomology score is 61% higher for depression in violent crime hot spots than cold spots, and 85% higher for PTSD. Overall, we estimate that 14.8% of residents of violent crime hot spots meet thresholds for moderate depression or a diagnosis of PTSD. This can be compared to only 6.5% of residents at the cold spots. Using PSM and weighted negative binomial regression approaches we show that observable selection factors are not responsible for the relationships identified. Examining geographic influences, we find an important area effect of violent crime for both mental health measures, and an additional impact of the specific street of residence for PTSD.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)285-295
Number of pages11
JournalAmerican Journal of Community Psychology
Issue number3-4
StatePublished - Jun 2018

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© Society for Community Research and Action 2018


  • Depression
  • Hot spots
  • Mental health
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder
  • Violence


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