Mindful Response to Adversity: A Stress Resilience Training for Improving Student Mental Health

Mindfulness-based interventions are known to impact stress and stress-related psychological and health outcomes. Mindfulness training programs have been shown to foster stress resilience and health among young adults, compared to other helpful stress management programs that include relaxation and

problem-solving training (for a review, see Creswell, 2017; Lindsay et al., 2018). Although a significant amount of published studies indicate that mindfulness-based trainings have beneficial effects on diverse health outcomes, the underlying mechanistic pathways driving their impact on stress and health is unclear.

This study randomized control trial (RCT) aims to improve stress resilience and mental health outcomes in at-risk freshman students by incorporating mindfulness into a wise psychological intervention theoretical approach. The study will test the effect of a precise and targeted mindfulness-based training, which teaches an approach of equanimity and non-judgment towards one’s internal experiences (thoughts, emotions, and sensations) following stress experiences, on health, psychological well-being, and academic performance.

This novel approach brings the active evidence-based ingredients of mindfulness interventions into real-world contexts, teaching people skills to enhance stress resilience towards social-evaluative stress. We will also assess the extent to which a mindfulness-based intervention impacts both biological (cortisol reactivity) and psychological (stress perceptions) during a standard laboratory socialevaluative stress task, compared to a common strengths-based, self-analysis intervention. This would allow us to uncover a possible mechanism of action of the intervention that may help explain the impact of these trainings on both acute and enduring stress resilience outcomes.

J. David Creswell and Elliot Berkman are co-faculty advisors for this project.

Project Team: 
Primary Investigator
Faculty Advisor