Cape Breton University students are growing a garden at the Cape Breton Regional Hospital as a way of giving back to mental health care services.

For one volunteer her motivation is the memory of her younger brother.

"My little brother Connor, he passed away from suicide, three years ago this November. I mentioned it to the group about how this courtyard really needs some improvement," says volunteer Chelsea McLellan.

McLellan remembers visiting her brother during his stays at the mental health unit at the Cape Breton Regional Hospital. She would often spend time with him in the same courtyard to get fresh air.

McLellan and her friends are now doing what they can to brighten the courtyard up.

"Back when my brother was here, it was just sad and dreary and dingy," says McLellan.

Along with planting a garden, McLellan and her classmates plan to paint portions of a bland surrounding of concrete and brick.

"At the end of the day, if it can reach at least one person, if it can make at least one person's stay here better then we've done our jobs," says volunteer Aaron Fudge.

More than $500 was raised for the hospital, most through community donations.

The students have been working with the Cape Breton Regional Hospital Foundation to make the project a reality even though they are technically done school for the year. They say the project holds deep meaning.

"I think this space will allow anybody who is here going through the mental health program and anybody who's here at the hospital to feel more comfortable and relaxed," says the hospital foundations CEO, Brad Jacobs.

McLellan says her brother would have loved the garden.

"If anyone knew my brother, they knew the one thing he loved was being outside and going for walks. Honestly, doing this one thing is the most memorable thing for him,” says McLellan.

With files from CTV Atlantic’s Ryan MacDonald