The Mental Health and Wellbeing of University Students: Acceptability, Effectiveness and Mechanisms of a Mindfulness-Based Course
Medlicott E., Phillips A., Crane C., Hinze V., Taylor L., Tickell A., Montero-Marin J., Kuyken W.
Mental health problems are relatively common during university and adversely affect academic outcomes. Evidence suggests that mindfulness can support the mental health and wellbeing of university students. We explored the acceptability and effectiveness of an 8-week instructor-led mindfulness-based course (“Mindfulness: Finding Peace in a Frantic World”; Williams and Penman, 2011) on improving wellbeing and mental health (self-reported distress), orientation and motivation towards academic goals, and the mechanisms driving these changes. Eighty-six undergraduate and post-graduate students (>18 years) participated. Students engaged well with the course, with 36 (48.0%) completing the whole programme, 52 (69.3%) attending 7 out of 8 sessions, and 71 (94.7%) completing at least half. Significant improvements in wellbeing and mental health were found post-intervention and at 6-week follow-up. Improvements in wellbeing were mediated by mindfulness, self-compassion, and resilience. Improvements in mental health were mediated by improvements in mindfulness and resilience but not self-compassion. Significant improvements in students’ orientation to their academic goal, measured by “commitment” to, “likelihood” of achieving, and feeling more equipped with the “skills and resources” needed, were found at post-intervention and at 6-week follow-up. Whilst exploratory, the results suggest that this mindfulness intervention is acceptable and effective for university students and can support academic study.