Doctoral Dissertations

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Counselor Education

Major Professor

Robert Kronick

Committee Members

Patrick Dunn, Jennifer Morrow, Eric Heidel


This study contributes to a growing body of research in counseling, public health, and psychology that examines how features within neighborhoods affect mental health. The environment in which their clients live directly affects services that counselors provide. Mental health discussions often center at the individual level, but mental health significantly impacts communities a whole. Therefore, the presence of mental health problems in individuals will affect the wider community at varying societal levels. Geographic information Systems, (GIS) will be used to determine which features of built environment associated food insecurity impact mental health and where the correlations between mental health and food insecurity are strongest. The proximity of features defining food insecurity will be used to identify areas that may be vulnerable to mental health issues. The study's research questions will examine conditions of the neighborhood’s built food environment that impact mental health and in turn increase allostatic load. The hypotheses of this study assert that positive food choices and a healthy neighborhood food environment will have a positive linear relationship with mental health. The results of this study will increase the use of the geographic information systems within counseling research; inform counselors and policymakers the impact of social determinants on mental health and identify vulnerable geographic subgroups. Counselors and decision makers may choose to use information and findings from this study to develop population-specific interventions.

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