Following my undergraduate degree I spent some time working in a care home for adults with learning difficulties and mental health issues. Through this, and my concurrent experiences volunteering with Childline, I came to realise the prevalence of mental health conditions and how under-researched the field is. I then completed my Master's degree in Mental Health Research, where I explored the cognitive, affective, and anxiolytic effects of exercise. During the degree I also began to formulate my own topics for research and, drawing on past experience in places of natural beauty through a period of travel, came to realise the positive effects that the natural world can have on mental health. This led me to apply to the Environmental Psychology Research Group at the University of Surrey, where I am now undertaking my PhD under the supervision of Dr Kayleigh Wyles and Dr Birgitta Gatersleben.
I aim to explore how the natural environment, or representations of it, can be of benefit to individuals with mental health issues; particularly in adults with depression. More specifically, I am aiming to assess whether Virtual Reality (VR) representations of nature can help to improve mood and reduce depressive symptoms at a level of clinical significance.
I am also interested in whether VR nature experiences can help to foster stronger connections to the natural world and potentially increase motivation to spend time within it, and whether psychotherapeutic interventions can become more effective if conducted in VR natural environments