The rising prevalence of mental health problems within the university student population has been well documented, yet few resilience-building interventions embedded within the first year curriculum have been empirically tested. This thesis evaluates the impact of a time and cost effective intervention (Mytern) which was embedded into a first year compulsory course in one Australian university, and delivered via a brief movie on DVD, a mini manual and a daily SMS. By adopting a salutogenic perspective and employing a mixed method approach, the study gathered data from surveys of wellbeing, semi-structured interviews and SMS feedback. Participants were divided into 3 groups: control (C), intervention involving DVD and mini manual (IA), and intervention involving DVD, mini manual and daily Mytern SMS (ISMS). One way ANOVA involving planned contrasts were used to investigate differences between the groups from baseline to the end of intervention, with results indicating that the intervention SMS group (ISMS) experienced significant positive changes in all 3 surveys of wellbeing (FS Diff = 5.74±5.86, p=.000; SWLS Diff = 5.53±5.16, p=.000; CD-RISC Diff = 3.84±3.77, p=.000) and a decreased score in psychological distress (K-10 = -6.47±7.18, p=.000). The results for the ISMS group supported the hypotheses that the intervention (Mytern) would increase students’ psychological wellbeing, life satisfaction and resilience, and decrease levels of psychological distress. Thematic analysis of the qualitative data added depth to the quantitative results by revealing how the resilience-building intervention developed a feeling of connection and a sense of control within a large number of students; enabling them to feel better mentally and physically; perform better academically; whilst encouraging them to continue at university.
Submitted in the fulfilment of the requirements of the degree of Doctor of Philosophy, University of the Sunshine Coast, 2014.
University of the Sunshine Coast Theses
The impact of an emotional fitness and resilience building intervention – Mytern - on the psychological wellbeing, life satisfaction, resilience and distress levels of first year university students