Health and Wellness Services

Mental Health NOW Project

For the last few years there has been growing support for creating accessible outdoor spaces that foster the wellbeing of our campus community through engagement with the natural environment.

The Mental Health NOW project’s mission is to connect the community to nature by creating spaces that foster mental health and wellbeing, a sense of belonging for all people, and to enhance existing native plants and ecosystems.

The approved 2022 Master Plan supports a natural open space project with the intention to connect the campus community with the natural Monterey Bay environment to enhance the sense of place, and bring learning opportunities into nature.

In Spring 2019, CSUMB Professor Dr. Jennifer Lovell’s study on Ways to Improve Student Health and Wellness via Outdoor Spaces study found that:

“When asked how outdoor spaces could be therapeutic, five prominent themes emerged from the student and employee campus participants, including reduced stress, relaxation, connectedness to nature, places for socialization and seating, and mindfulness.”

The project concept was initially proposed by Allen McClellan, a Health and Wellness Services staff member, who anecdotally saw the effectiveness of time spent in open spaces reducing the effects of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder in troops returning from combat. As the Suicide Prevention Specialist, Allen believed the same approach could reduce stress and improve student's mental health and shared with the Planning Department examples of open spaces throughout the world that could be created at CSUMB.

With this idea, a couple areas of the CSUMB campus are ideal locations for the Mental Health NOW (MH NOW) project, which intends to use ideas and research generated by the CSUMB community.  Since 2020, Health and Wellness Services (HWS) and Campus Planning have been working together to gain broader campus support for developing the MH NOW project, with presentations made to Associated Students  and the Academic Senate, who in Spring 2020 passed a Community Park Resolution.