Spatializing psychological well-being: A photovoice approach on the experience of stress alleviation among university students

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Rising numbers of mental health-related cases are documented in university settings due to psychological distress. As a case exemplar, this study examined university students’ experiences of stress alleviation through the everyday use of campus spaces using photovoice methodology. Employing a qualitative triangulation method, we distilled insights from corroborating data gathered using SHOWeD focus group discussions and walking interviews. We also used participatory photo mapping (PPM) as a novel method to initially validate the findings through enhancing student participation, as well as, a strategy to achieve the final interpretative synthesis. Main findings showed three overarching spatial experiences of stress alleviation namely: being away from stressful places, being present but mentally away from a place, or being engaged within communal spaces. Discussion highlights practical implications on university mental health policy and use of campus spaces, as well as methodological implications in conducting photovoice projects.