Horticulture as Therapy in University Settings: A Manual for University Mental Health Allies

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2015-05
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Harter, Rebekah
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Cusick, John
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Food Science and Human Nutrition
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University of Hawaii at Manoa
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It is no surprise to anyone that university campuses are hubs of mental illness. Pressures from bosses, professors, peers, and parents, push many students into a constant state of anxiety and depression. With limited outlets for students to seek sanctuary, there is a desperate grab for anything that offers solace. This in turn leads many to addiction, alcoholism, eating disorders, self-injury, and depression. University counseling centers are often stretched thin as they attempt to accommodate the rise of new clients and create a welcoming environment which eliminates any intimidation students may feel due to the stigma of mental illness. How do we improve the mental health on university campuses, change negative beliefs concerning help-seeking behavior and mental illness, and alleviate some of the burden felt by university counseling centers? Horticulture Therapy might very well be the answer to these questions. Horticulture therapy is defined as the use of plants and the natural environment to achieve a clinically defined goal. These goals, while unique for each individualized client, therapist, and setting, often include increased social interaction, productivity, creativeness, positive coping, personal reflection, wellbeing, physical activity, and decreased anxiety, depression, and stress. The main objective of this project was to bring research regarding the therapeutic use of horticulture into the hands of university mental health allies, and in doing so, encourage the implementation of these programs into the mental health strategic plan of universities. In order to do this, a centralized, easily-accessible, comprehensive, coherent, and free resource regarding the basic therapeutic concepts and the development of such a program was produced.
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60 pages
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