The feasibility and effectiveness of a novel online mental health literacy course in supporting university student mental health: a pilot study.
King N., Linden B., Cunningham S., Rivera D., Rose J., Wagner N., Mulder J., Adams M., Baxter R., Duffy A.
BACKGROUND: There is a need for effective universal approaches to promote and support university student mental health that are scalable and sustainable. In this pilot study we assess the feasibility and acceptability of a fully-digitalized, comprehensive mental health literacy course co-created with and tailored to the needs of undergraduate students. We also explore preliminary associations with mental health and positive behaviour change. METHODS: An accredited online mental health literacy course was developed using state-of-the-art pedagogical principles and a reverse mentorship approach. The course was offered as an interdisciplinary undergraduate elective. Students completed an online survey before and after the 12-week course that collected demographic information and assessed mental health knowledge, emotional self-awareness, mental health, stigma, and health-related behaviors using validated measures. Dependent group t-tests were used to compare pre- and post-course levels of knowledge, mental health, sleep quality and substance use. Mental health outcomes of students who completed the course were compared to an age and sex-matched sample of students not enrolled in the course and who completed the same survey measures over the same academic year. Multivariable linear regression was used to examine the effect of course participation on outcomes at follow-up. RESULTS: The course had good uptake and was positively reviewed by participants. Specifically, students found the course engaging, relevant, and applicable, and agreed they would recommend it to their peers. Among course participants there was improvement in mental health knowledge (p