National assessment and e-health interventions for mental health problems among university students

Swedish Partnership in The WHO World Mental Health International College Student (WMH-ICS) Study

Project Abstract

The life transition between late adolescence and emerging adulthood is often troubled, with one in three university students showing symptoms of depression and anxiety. However, help-seeking behavior is low due to emotional and practical barriers, generating a treatment gap. The purpose of this project is to map Swedish university students’ mental health problems and deliver e-health interventions to those at risk. The project is organized in four work packages (WPs) over five years. An annual epidemiological survey targeting first-year students will map mental health problems and disorders, including suicidal thoughts and behaviors (WP1), and annual follow-up surveys will track participants’ developmental trajectories in terms of persisting problems and help-seeking behavior (WP2). Students identified as at-risk will be offered participation in a three-arm randomized controlled trial (RCT), delivering guided or unguided transdiagnostic e-treatment, or treatment as usual in a control group (WP3). At 5-week follow-up, participants at higher risk of failing treatment according to a precision treatment algorithm will be randomized to personally adapted e-treatment or continued WP3 treatment in a secondary trial-within-trial (WP4). The project builds on Swedish partnership with the WHO WMH-ICS 20-country international consortium. We envisage high potential for reducing mental health problems among Swedish university students, improving academic performance and reducing dropout.