Reclaiming Serenity: How outdoor experiences may help improve Veterans' mental health

Loading...
Thumbnail Image
Authors
Hicks, Nathan
Advisor
Honzel, Nikki
Editor
Date of Issue
2024
Subject Keywords
Publisher
Citation
Series/Report No.
item.page.identifier
Title
Reclaiming Serenity: How outdoor experiences may help improve Veterans' mental health
Other Titles
Type
Presentation
Description
Abstract
Many individuals claim that being outdoors can help improve mental health. However, most research focuses on treatment as usual with nature-based therapies as an addition or complement. Previous research indicates that nature-based therapies may be beneficial in alleviating symptoms associated with trauma, depression, and anxiety (Gelkopf et al., 2013; Merchand et al., 2018). Recently, evidence has suggested that just being in nature may help to reduce anxiety and improve overall mental health symptoms (Wheeler et al., 2020). The current study analyzed results from 32 Veterans who completed a set of questionnaires both before and after a five-day outdoor adventure at a cabin on the Big Hole River in Montana. Veterans were administered the PTSD Checklist (PCL-5), State and Trait Anxiety Inventory (STAI-6), and the Connor-Davidson Resilience Scale (CD-RISC-25) two weeks before the 5-day trip, and two weeks after the 5-day trip. Preliminary results suggest that overall mental health symptoms significantly improved following the 5-day adventure. Anxiety, both state and trait, significantly improved after the trip. PTSD symptoms significantly improved, and resiliency ratings increased. This study suggests that a five-day outdoor trip may significantly enhance Veterans' mental health, highlighting nature's role in reducing stress and improving well-being. The findings prompt further investigation into the longevity of these mental health improvements.
Sponsors
Degree Awarded
Semester
Department
Psychology