Nature for the Win

When you walk around a college campus and look at the buildings and scenery, have you taken the time to look at the amount of greenspaces that are around?. If you are a college student wouldn’t you want your campus to have various green spaces for sports, meditation or to simply hangout with friends or do homework? In this article, we will look at the relationship between college campus green spaces and student mental health and academic achievement.

Students go through a lot of changes during college, and these changes may cause challenges to their mental health. There are also additional  stress factors which affect their mental health and lead to higher rates of depression compared to the general population (Liu et al., 2022). It is a common expectation for students to excel in their academic life, and this adds even more pressure to students which results in more stress.

For this reason college students are a population widely studied by researchers. In the research article Campus Green Spaces, Academic Achievement and Mental Health of College Students, students from 45 Universities across 30 cities in China were studied to examine the effects of greenspaces on mental health, along with the mediating variable of academic achievement. Others studies have been conducted that only look at the effect of greenspaces on mental health or the effects of academic achievement in mental health. This study showed how all three areas correlate and have an effect on each other. Students completed a survey that include questions that evaluated the greenspaces on their campuses, their mental health, and academic achievement.

Chinese University of Hong Kong (Shenshen Campus) Master Plan Winning Proposal, by Rocco Architects

The results demonstrated significant effects of greenspaces on mental health and academic achievement. Green space and academic achievement both affected mental health differently for males and females. Generally the mental health of males was better than that of females and females were at higher risk of depression. Greenspaces positively affected male mental health more than for females. There was a minor gender difference between green space and academic achievement; and no gender difference between academic achievement and mental health. It was concluded that to improve the mental health of college students, it was necessary to improve the quality of campus green spaces and promote academic achievement (Liu et al., 2022).  

This may be a greater challenge for colleges in urban settings, because they do not have much green space surrounding campus. The journal article titled The health benefits of urban green spaces: a review of the evidence concluded that, “ One postulated mechanism by which green space influences physical health is through its effect on physical activity levels. Modification of the built environment to provide green space offers opportunities for beneficial ‘green exercise’ such as walking”. If students had green spaces around then they would more likely to be motivated to go for a walk or to simply go outside to enjoy the view. This can not only have an effect on their physical activity levels but also on their mental health. Green spaces do influence positive mental health; those on urban college campuses should explore areas outside of their campus where they can enjoy nature in order to improve their mental health and physical activity as well.

References 

A.C.K. Lee, R. Maheswaran, The health benefits of urban green spaces: a review of the evidence, Journal of Public Health, Volume 33, Issue 2, June 2011, Pages 212–222, https://doi.org/10.1093/pubmed/fdq068

Furuto, A. (2013, July 6). Chinese University of Hong Kong (shenzhen campus) master plan winning proposal / rocco design architects. ArchDaily. Retrieved October 5, 2022, from https://www.archdaily.com/398564/chinese-university-of-hong-kong-shenzhen-campus-master-plan-winning-proposal-rocco-design-architects 

Liu W, Sun N, Guo J, Zheng Z. Campus Green Spaces, Academic Achievement and Mental Health of College Students. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health. 2022; 19(14):8618. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph19148618

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