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The global discussion around mental health has expanded in recent decades to become more open, informed and understanding.
Mental health support is more readily available than it ever has been before.
Social media has likewise enabled individual voices to have a platform to document anecdotal experiences and share mental health information with the public.
Growing numbers of young people are therefore better able to assess their mental wellbeing and research whether they might be suffering from mental health issues like anxiety or depression.
Universities have a duty of care towards their students and the University of Nebraska, Omaha counselling service and wellness committee encourages an open discourse around the importance of mental health and wellbeing.
Counselling and Psychological Services
1 in 5 adults in the USA experience mental illness each year.
A high number of long-term mental health problems start in childhood, and often, students only develop noticeable symptoms once they move away from their childhood home.
The University of Nebraska, Omaha, demonstrates its understanding of how important it is for students to have a supportive environment to express their feelings and any struggles they might face.
Counselling and Psychological Services are available to all enrolled students via scheduled appointments with trained staff members.
The broad range of services includes short-term counselling, group counselling, couples counselling, prevention services, outreach education, wellness education, and emergency services.
Students can also receive help with suicidal thoughts, showing the depth of the duty of care the University delivers to its students and staff.
The University of Nebraska, Omaha Wellness Committee was also implemented to provide students with a more holistic mental health and wellbeing treatment.
Unlike generations, students now actively think about their overall wellbeing regarding important factors like exercise, talk therapy and maintaining an overall healthy lifestyle.
The Wellness Center was purposefully built to offer wellness coaching and other resources, including accessibility services, wheelchair basketball and more.
Given that 75% of mental health problems are fully established by age 24, according to the Mental Health Foundation, this variety of wellbeing support is imperative in preventing mental health problems from developing or worsening and helping existing issues.
The amygdala and green space
Human beings have long been fascinated by what appears to be an inherent connection to nature.
Philosophical questions have long arisen in the search to understand why our mental wellbeing seems to improve when we visit the beach or swim in a large pool of water, with scientists moving beyond anecdotal evidence and instead studying the effects of nature on the brain.
The amygdala is part of the brain that controls emotions such as fear and stress.
The fight-or-flight response is activated in this region when fearful stimuli or traumatic situations trigger us.
Spending time in nature decreases activity in the amygdala, which helps you feel relaxed, strengthens the ability to retain information and boosts your overall mood.
It doesn’t take long for a parade of trees or a shimmering expanse of water to put a proverbial spring in your step, as even 10 minutes in a natural environment will help to calm the stress response.
Given the rural climate of Omaha, Nebraska, students are empowered by a scenic setting whether they revise with friends amongst the campus trees or regularly venture out into nearby public parks.
A better focus - something in the air
Air pollution has been linked to the development of mental health disorders such as anxiety, depression, and schizophrenia, with higher levels of pollutants found in cities.
Fortunately, students have plenty of chances to experience the fresher air of the fields and parks in the surrounding area.
The decreased amygdala activity enables people to focus, which is helpful for students and another conscious step made by the University to empower students with the most valuable facilities.
Many young people are self-diagnosing ADHD due to a wealth of information and entertaining content published on TikTok by people claiming to have the disorder.
While the cause of this rise in self-diagnosis has not been confirmed as being due to an increased awareness of existing conditions or traced back to the lower concentration span of a generation tied to their phones, the concentration power nature provides is nevertheless helpful to young students in Omaha, Nebraska.
Eco-friendly spaces boost mental health
Sustainability is a more significant focus for young people than ever, with climate change cited as a major worry for an entire generation.
Students therefore appreciate opportunities to get out into nature and the broader area of Omaha, Nebraska, beyond the University campus, which boasts green spaces such as Laureitzen Gardens Omaha’s Botanical Center and the Heartland of America Park.
For students living off-campus or in homestay arrangements, these nearby sustainable spaces provide plenty of leisurely entertainment that will boost dopamine levels while helping to alleviate any symptoms of stress or anxiety they might experience.
The scenic location of the University of Omaha, Nebraska, combined with the multi-faceted mental health support network, empowers all enrolled students with whole-person support.
Which green spaces does Omaha, Nebraska offer?
The University of Nebraska, Omaha, is surrounded by several green spaces that offer students and staff opportunities to unwind in nature.
Elmwood Park is just a mile from the University and provides a popular spot for picnics, leisurely walks or impromptu study spots. Just south of here is Hanscom Park, which features walking trails and a tranquil pond for leisurely relaxation.
Memorial Park is further west, with sports fields, tennis courts, and a beautiful rose garden.
For those seeking a longer walk or bike ride, the Keystone Trail runs along the western edge of the University campus and connects to several other trails throughout the city.
These green spaces provide an escape from the hustle and bustle of University life and offer a chance to connect with nature.
The Wellness Committee
For students who need help to alleviate the pressures of academic life especially, spending time in these nearby green spaces can be a valuable way to improve their mental health if they suffer from any mental health problems, or it can otherwise contribute towards achieving an overall sense of happiness.
The University is distinctly aware of the importance of looking after your mental health and how much green space plays a part in keeping your body in a state of calm.
So much so there is a Wellness Committee at the University devoted to providing opportunities for students to enhance their wellbeing whilst they study.
Students are encouraged to take a ‘green space wellness’ survey to provide valuable feedback about the natural landscape of the campus and how much it boosts their mood when they spend time on campus.
By providing access to these green spaces, the University of Omaha Nebraska is helping to promote the mental health and wellbeing of its students, but also its faculty and staff; lecturers who have access to a variety of resources will be in the best position to teach, so the quality of teaching will retain its already high standard of excellence.
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