ORCID Identifier(s)


Graduation Semester and Year




Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Social Work


Social Work

First Advisor

Regina Praetorius


Mental health problems are on the rise, especially among college students. Problematically, the two most common approaches - pharmacotherapy and talk therapy - are either grounded in a limited and suspect evidence base or is not an approach that reaches most people in need of and wanting mental health support. There is, however, a growing body of evidence supporting a health-based approach to mental health, including the application of nature, exercise, nutrition, and lifestyle. As well, with an expansive definition of health, there are even more practices, such as art, writing, and social connection to support better health and mental health. Therefore, the following study explored the impact of an individualized holistic health approach to mental health among a small sample of university graduate students. The interventions included breath-work, movement and exercise, nature, solitude, art, writing, and social connection. Qualitative data was gathered and is presented through storytelling, instead of story analysis. When putting the health in mental health, the general findings from this study suggest that authenticity and relationships are foundational, and in doing so, it may be especially important to prioritize physical movement/exercise - including breath-work, connection to and time in the physical world/nature, and consistently practice connection to and care for self and others.


Mental health, Health, Anxiety, Depression, Nature, Solitude, Movement, Exercise, Art, Writing, Social connection, Humanism, Phenomenology, Holistic


Social and Behavioral Sciences | Social Work


Degree granted by The University of Texas at Arlington

Included in

Social Work Commons