Rethinking Mental Health Interventions in College Education

Evaluating Internet-Based Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

A study titled “Guided internet-based transdiagnostic individually tailored Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for symptoms of depression and/or anxiety in college students: A randomized controlled trial” aimed to assess the effectiveness of guided web-based iCBT in treating college students with symptoms of depression and/or anxiety. The study recruited 100 college students from the Netherlands and compared the iCBT approach to traditional treatment methods. The ICare Prevent strategies, delivered in 7 weekly online sessions, included introduction, identification of problems and behavioral activation, psychoeducation, cognitive restructuring, problem-solving or exposure in daily life, and planning for the future. The results didn’t show significant benefits of iCBT over usual treatment methods, but the study had a small sample size and was focused on students in one country. The transdiagnostic approach aimed to address both depression and anxiety.

Supporting Research:

  • “Effectiveness of a transdiagnostic individually tailored Internet-based and mobile-supported intervention for the indicated prevention of depression and anxiety (ICare Prevent) in Dutch college students: study protocol for a randomized controlled trial” from Trials Journal (Read More)

The College Experience and Mental Health

This study made me reflect on the entire process and system of college and education. There seems to be a major focus on achieving high grades and completing large volumes of readings, papers, and assignments. This approach, potentially ethnocentric and monocultural, rooted in systemic racist structures, puts immense pressure on students. The rush to meet deadlines and high expectations can create cognitive dissonance for students who genuinely want to learn but feel hindered by these constraints. The structured focus by colleges for students to learn on their own, rather than in creative classroom environments, adds to this challenge.

Rethinking the Structures of Higher Education

Perhaps the intervention’s limited effectiveness is not solely due to depression and anxiety but also the outdated structures of higher education. The pressure of large assignments and readings, combined with the financial burden of college education, may contribute significantly to students’ mental health challenges. This perspective suggests a need to reevaluate and update the educational structures to better support students’ mental and emotional well-being.

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