Pilot study of an undergraduate college course to support student mental health: Wellness and resilience for college and beyond

Carla D. Chugani*, James J. Mazza, Barbara J. Fuhrman, Janine Talis, Courtney Murphy, Elizabeth Miller, Robert W.S. Coulter

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations

Abstract

The purpose of this study was to investigate preliminary outcomes associated with an undergraduate course titled, “Wellness and Resilience for College and Beyond” (WRC), which teaches students evidence-based skills for emotional health. Three campuses in Southwestern Pennsylvania with no previous experience delivering this course implemented the one-semester WRC during the Fall 2019 semester; 24 students completed a baseline survey and at least 1 follow-up survey. Participants completed electronic surveys at baseline, post-semester, and 3-month follow-up. Paired t-tests were used to compare baseline scores to scores at post-semester and 3-month follow-up. At post-semester, students reported significant improvements in psychological inflexibility, resilience, mindfulness, emotion dysregulation, distress tolerance, life satisfaction, dysfunctional coping, and adaptive skills use. With the exceptions of life satisfaction and emotion dysregulation, significant gains were maintained at 3-month follow-up. Notably, the follow-up assessment occurred at the beginning of the COVID-19 lockdown in the U.S. (March 2020), which may have affected life satisfaction and emotion dysregulation for participants. There was a nonsignificant decline in anxiety at post-semester which became statistically significant at 3-month follow-up. These preliminary data show proof of concept that WRC can be implemented successfully on new campuses with no previous expertise in this course and can achieve meaningful improvements on several emotional health outcomes with high relevance to collegiate mental health. In addition to these data, barriers to implementation and scale-up are discussed at length with “lessons learned” that may have broad relevance to the implementation of emotional wellbeing coursework in higher education and support such efforts to address student mental health at the population level.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-9
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Behavioral and Cognitive Therapy
Volume33
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Mar 2023
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • College students
  • Dialectical behavior therapy
  • Psychoeducation
  • Resilience
  • Wellbeing

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