Immigrant women, nature and mental health
Journal article, Peer reviewed
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Original versionLorentzen, C. A. N., & Viken, B. (2020). Immigrant women, nature and mental health. International Journal of Migration, Health and Social Care, 16(4). https://doi.org/10.1108/IJMHSC-11-2019-0089
Purpose: There is a need for cost-effective strategies to counteract mental health challenges among immigrant women. This study aims to identify how nature might improve the mental health status of immigrant women residing in Norway. Design/methodology/approach: Qualitative data were gathered through individual interviews with 14 immigrant women from Iran (2), Poland (2), Palestine, Afghanistan, Congo, Kenya, Thailand, Russia, Portugal, Latvia, Colombia and Bulgaria. Findings: The qualitative content analysis revealed that interaction with nature positively influenced the immigrant women’s mental health. This occurred because of the following: exposure to nature itself, leading to mood enhancements; familiarization with the new country’s culture, nature, climate and language, facilitating feelings of mastery, attachment and belonging; social interactions, promoting immediate well-being and future social support; interacting with nature in familiar ways, reducing feelings of alienation/loss; and physical activity, improving mood and stress-related conditions. These mental health improvements were a result of interactions with various types of natural environments. Originality/value: This study supports the promotion of interaction with nature among immigrant women as part of low-cost public health work. Practitioners should consider multiple arenas for potential nature-related mental health gains.