At this university, courses are aimed at improving students’ mental health

A university in Wales offered psychology students the opportunity to take courses focused on wellness. Experience has shown that participation in these programs helped to reduce their psychological problems.

Economic insecurity, stress, fear, loneliness, uncertainties about the future… Exacerbated by the pandemic, student shortages are a real public health problem. Many universities are looking for solutions to support their students and improve their mental health. Researchers from the University of Swansea (Wales, United Kingdom) have worked precisely on the problem by designing a tailor-made course focused on psychological well-being.

The program in question is an optional module that allows to obtain additional points, proposed to the students in the third year of the psychology license. It covers essential themes such as positive psychology and introspection exercises, as well as issues central to young people’s concerns, such as eco-anxiety or societal inequalities (gender, race, etc.).

The course took place over five weeks, using a blended learning approach, including 5 hours of seminars conducted via video conference, 10 hours of learning modules, 40 hours of studies and activities and 45 hours of assessment preparation.

A total of 128 students, divided into two groups, took part in the experiment, which took place between 2020 and 2022. Participants in the first group followed the module and completed a questionnaire before and after the experiment to provide researchers with information about their mental health status. . The other students (control group), who also answered the questionnaires, followed an elective module and had to spend the same amount of time on it.

Volunteering or being active in an NGO

“Our research was conducted during the Covid pandemic and demonstrates the ability of strategically designed modules to improve student wellbeing during difficult times,” says Andrew H. Kemp, who led the study. The researchers found “significant” differences in mental health between students who took the module and those in the control group.

“These findings have important implications for thinking about how the education sector can support well-being alongside other major societal stressors such as the climate crisis. Our module encourages reflection on these questions and on what students could do as part of their ability to address societal issues of major importance.”conclude the study authors.

The latter underline in particular the importance of these young people to work on a collective level for charities that are close to their heart, for example by doing voluntary work or by working for an NGO.

According to research published in early 2021 by the School of Advanced Studies in Public Health in Rennes, 60% of college students show signs of depression (i.e. one in five college students). A distress that researchers directly associate with the pandemic, given the time period in which it occurred.

But this psychological malaise among students already existed before the arrival of Covid-19. Another study, conducted in three European countries (France, Romania and Moldova), published in 2018, revealed high rates of depression, stress and anxiety among young participants: 39%, 47% and 35.8% respectively on average in the three countries involved.

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