The forest as a classroom: Preparing for mental health practice
Journal article, Peer reviewed
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Original versionBMC Nursing, 2016 15:6 10.1186/s12912-016-0128-8
Background Positive effects of physical activity, health promotion and disease prevention, in treatment of mental illnesses are well documented. Mental health practice for nursing students highlights the important connection between physical activities and mental health. This study aims to examine the outcome from nursing students’ participation using The forest as a classroom. Students’ collaboration by problem solving, theoretical discussions and performance of activities in the forest serves as a repertoire of non-medical treatment strategies in mental health. Methods The forest as a classroom was evaluated by means of an ad-hoc questionnaire including both standardized and open-ended questions. Data was analyzed by means of descriptive statistics and content analysis. Results The results indicated enhanced knowledge about physical activity and its impact on mental health. However, the nursing students’ experience challenge preserving theoretical exercises outdoor because sensory stimulation took attention away from learning. Conclusions For nursing students it is essential to build a repertoire of treatment activities to care for patients having mental health problems. This kind of approach is supported by the students’ learning in the forest. The pilot study highlights the importance of multiple methods of learning in nursing education.