Advances in Mental Health, Vol 9, No 1 (2010)

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Online Intervention for Student Wellbeing: Universal Online Interventions Might Engage Psychologically Distressed University Students who are Unlikely to Seek Formal Help

Megan L Ryan, Ian M Shochet, Helen M Stallman

Abstract


University students are a high-risk population for mental health problems, yet few seek professional help when experiencing problems.  This study explored the potential role of an online intervention for promoting wellbeing in university students, by investigating students' levels of psychological distress, help-seeking behaviour, intention to use online interventions and student content preference for such interventions.  Two hundred and fifty-four university students responded to an online survey designed for this study that included the Kessler Psychological Distress Scale and the General Help-Seeking Questionnaire as well as probes regarding intention to use an online student program and desired content.  As predicted, students reported higher psychological distress than the general population average, and were less likely to seek help as levels of psychological distress increased.  Conversely, intention to use an online intervention increased at higher levels of distress, with 39.1%, 49.4% and 57.7% of low, moderate and severely distressed students respectively indicating they would use an online program supporting student well being.  Results suggest that universal online interventions may be a useful way to provide help to students in need of support who otherwise may not seek formal help.






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