There is concerning evidence that only 20% of UK students struggling with their mental health during the pandemic sought help (National Union of Students, 2020). Mental health problems are ultimately associated with negative outcomes, including lower grades (Duffy et al., 2020)
Yet, there is a substantial gap between need for help and access to it. It’s hard to ask for help, and even when help is sought, students often have to wait for it to start and disengagement is common.
Now imagine an anonymous one-off therapy session available online; to anyone, anywhere, and anytime. Single session interventions are scalable, accessible, and designed to deliver the core component(s) of the active intervention within a single encounter, without an expectation that the person will engage in longer term therapy. Not only are single-session interventions a practical solution for young people, they have been evaluated in a variety of contexts, including Kenya, India, and the United States with positive results (Osborn et al., 2020; Wasil et al., 2020; Wasil et al., 2021).
The COMmon Elements Toolbox (COMET) is an online single session intervention without therapist contact. It is based on evidence-based, non-stigmatizing concepts: cognitive restructuring, gratitude, and behavioural activation. COMET has previously been tested with Indian adolescents (Wasil et al., 2020) and US postgraduate students reported benefits on their quality of life (Wasil et al., 2021). Furthermore, COMET resulted in improvements in depression symptoms at 4- and 12-week follow-up in American undergraduate students (Wasil et al, under review).
However, these online single session interventions have yet to be implemented and evaluated in university students in the UK.
Any UK university student who is age 16+, undergraduate or postgraduate, with internet can sign up to take part in our trial. All participants get to access the British version of COMET, called COMET-GB. Some get it immediately and some after waiting for 4 weeks. So for < 2 hours of their time, any student can potentially help themselves to build resilience and improve their well-being, whilst also helping us to test this potentially valuable programme. An added bonus is a prize draw for one of 16 £50 Amazon vouchers! This opportunity will continue to be on offer until September, 2022, and more information is available at bit.ly/COMET-GB.
We are using this blog to help connect stakeholders across Higher Education interested in student mental health. If you have a project you are working on or an idea you'd like to develop, why not write your own blog post for us?