"Travel therapy": Tourism as a contribution to the mental wellbeing of students.
Last January 7th, the universities of Cuenca and Azuay carried out a field trip to the Hacienda de la Trabana (Quingeo-Cuenca Parish), in order to generate outdoor recreational activities to contribute to the reduction of symptoms of stress, anxiety and depression in scholarship students of the two universities.
This excursion was attended by 30 students, who were accompanied by research professors from the areas of tourism and psychology of the participating universities. Prior to this exercise, the research team collected data using the DASS21 instrument (anxiety, stress and depression analysis test), in order to know the symptomatology of the students participating in this study. Subsequently, based on these results, the researchers designed specific activities that would help the students to reduce their levels of stress, anxiety and depression. Consequently, the field trip had a participatory approach that integrated leisure and relaxation activities in natural spaces.
This field trip marked the end of one of the last stages of a project that has been in development for more than 18 months, in which the symptoms of stress, anxiety and depression have been monitored in the university community after practicing activities in contact with nature. The preliminary results of this project have been very encouraging, as it has proven the benefits of nature for the mental wellbeing of people. This work provides new opportunities to develop tourism activities focused on people's mental health, with the aim of contributing to improve the psychological problems of those suffering from these symptoms.
These activities were carried out in the framework of the project Mental wellness based on nature tourism experiences in scholarship students of the University of Cuenca and University of Azuay, which is carried out by the above mentioned universities. In addition, members of the PREIT-tour research team actively participate as mentors and researchers of the project.
Photo credits: PREIT-tour and University of Cuenca