“It's like a different world”: Natural places, post-secondary students, and mental health
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There is a need to better understand the types of natural environments that different individuals and groups find mental health promoting. In this exploratory qualitative study, twelve university students were invited to photographically document a natural place that they considered beneficial to their mental health. Thematic analysis of photographs and follow-up in-depth interviews revealed that students prefer natural places that are familiar, contain a variety of natural elements (especially mature trees and some form of water), and are separate from the context of everyday campus life (distanced from both the built and social campus environment). Overall, study findings demonstrate the importance of acknowledging symbolic and social factors when assessing the potential mental health benefits of natural places for different groups and individuals.
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