A feasibility study on a novel well-being intervention for university students

Hunt, E. and Coombes, L. (2021) A feasibility study on a novel well-being intervention for university students. Irish Journal of Psychological Medicine. pp. 1-5. ISSN 0790-9667


Abstract Objectives:

Challenging transitions, increased stress and mental ill health can affect students’ academic performance and their capacity to remain in higher education. Prevention and early treatment of mental health problems in college students is therefore a key public health priority, nationally and internationally. Developing a range of evidence-based interventions targeting the mental health of students is critical. We examined the feasibility and acceptability of a new universal time use and well-being intervention, the ‘ Everyday Matters: Healthy Habits for University Life’ digital badge (EMDB), a co-curricular micro-credential for first-year college students.

This study used a single-arm, pre–post design for first-year undergraduate students. The EMDB comprised eight 1-hour lunchtime sessions on brain development and time-use habits across the 24 hours of the day including sleep, self-care, leisure, study and work. Validated measures of occupational competence and value, mental well-being, sleep health, mindset, self-compassion and gratitude were completed, along with an evaluation questionnaire.

Eight first-year undergraduate students completed the demographic questionnaire and pre- and post- measures, with one additional student completing only the evaluation questionnaire. There was significantly improved levels of well-being, self-compassion and growth mindset following the intervention. Many of the challenges reported by participants related to occupational issues such as managing finances and having a satisfying routine. Participants appreciated the practical relevance and scientific underpinnings of the programme content. The sense of belonging within the group and having insightful conversations with other group members were particularly valued by participants.

This study offers preliminary evidence that an occupational therapy based universal time-use and well-being intervention was feasible to deliver and acceptable to first-year undergraduate students. The results of this study and the participant acceptability support further development and evaluation of the EMDB intervention.

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