What mentally-ill adults gain from participating in outdoor community outreach programs delivered by Out Doors Inc.

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Dokumentart: Diplomarbeit, Magisterarbeit, Master Thesis
Institut: Department Gesundheitswissenschaften
Sprache: Englisch
Erstellungsjahr: 2014
Publikationsdatum:
SWD-Schlagwörter: Psychisch Kranker
DDC-Sachgruppe: Medizin, Gesundheit

Kurzfassung auf Englisch:

Purpose This thesis explores how spending time in nature is beneficial to human health, especially for individuals who have a mental illness. Ultimately, the catalyst for writing was to assist an Australian non-profit, Outdoors Inc. (ODI) in analyzing their data set of participant surveys. The results of this thesis will guide ODI in improving their outdoor programs in the future. Background The momentum of research recognizing links between the natural environment and human health has been increasing since the 1980s with the development of Wilson’s biophilia hypothesis in 1984. Methods ODI’s data set of anonymously filled participant surveys, collected from 2009 to 2012, was made available to the writer. Since ODI data included over 2,000 accumulated surveys, programs were analyzed for similarity; coding and transcription was done with Microsoft Excel. A literature review was subsequently conducted to review current therapeutic practices in the outdoors; a focus was given to adventure therapy (AT), as well as horticultural therapy (HT). The results of the literature review were then used as a basis for comparison with the ODI data set, enabling the selection of a sample of ODI’s current programs for detailed analysis Results Overall it was concluded that individuals who participant in ODI’s programs do benefit, as was demonstrated in both quantitative and qualitative data. The quantitative data indicated that participants were consistently satisfied overall with the program throughout the years. At the same time, evidence in the qualitative data presented examples of how participants felt they benefited from participating in ODI’s programs, whether it was simply getting away from Melbourne or acquiring a new perspective on their health. Conclusion Participating in nature-based activities does benefit individuals, particularly those who have a mental illness. ODI provides a crucial service at a time when governments are practicing austerity measures and cutting back investments in health promotion initiatives. The relationship individuals cultivate with nature can be therapeutic, and this dynamic should continue to be studied as methods are developed to empirically analyze an individual’s subjective experience.

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