Training Track: Clinical
Lab: Improving Mental-health and Promoting Adjustment through Critical Transitions (IMPACT) Lab
Advisor: Colleen Conley, Ph.D.
Office: Coffey Hall 308
Webpage: IMPACT Lab
Yale University, B.S. in Psychology
Adolescence and emerging adulthood; mental health and well-being across difficult transitions (e.g., the transition to college); implementation of prevention and intervention programs, particularly peer-led and technology-based interventions
Masters Thesis Title
Examining outcomes and mechanisms of the Honest, Open, Proud intervention in college students with mental illness
Masters Thesis Abstract
Emerging adulthood is a developmental stage involving many changes and transitions. The instability during this time can cause significant distress, making this a period of increased vulnerability for the development of mental illness. The rise in the incidence of mental illness on college campuses has caused an increased demand for mental health services. Unfortunately, college students face many barriers to treatment, including self-stigma. Honest, Open, Proud for college students (HOP-C) is a peer-led group-based intervention designed to reduce self-stigma in college students living with mental illness. Using a serial mediation model, the present study investigated outcomes and mechanisms of the HOP-C intervention using data from a multi-site study across three college campuses. Results indicated that HOP-C does not reduce symptoms of depression or anxiety and does not increase institutional attachment to one’s college or university. However, mediation analyses revealed that higher satisfaction with college peers predicts stronger institutional attachment, and stronger institutional attachment predicts fewer depression symptoms. Health promotion initiatives on college campuses should place a strong focus on building community and fostering a sense of belonging at the university. As these findings indicate, doing so will indirectly improve mental health outcomes while also improving student engagement and retention.
Masters Thesis Committee
Colleen Conley, PhD; Pat Rupert, PhD
The impact of peer supportive accountability on use of a mindfulness app in depressed college students: A mixed methods study
Rates of mental health concerns have been rising on college campuses (CCMH, 2020), but most students with mental health problems do not receive treatment (Healthy Minds Network, 2019). Behavioral intervention technologies (BITs) including mental health mobile apps (MHapps) address many of the barriers faced when seeking in-person services. MHapps are well-suited to college students (Lattie et al., 2019) and demonstrate similar efficacy to face-to-face treatment (Linardon et al., 2019). Mindfulness interventions have a substantial body of research demonstrating their positive impact on a wide variety of physical and mental health outcomes. Headspace is one of the most popular mindfulness-based MHapps, and research trials have found that Headspace use leads to improvements in many mental health outcomes (e.g., Flett et al., 2019). Unfortunately, MHapps suffer from low rates of adherence and engagement (Lattie et al., 2019). Supportive accountability (SA; Mohr et al., 2011) involves a reciprocal relationship between an individual and a coach who provides accountability and supportive performance monitoring. SA has been implemented in a number of BIT trials and is associated with increased adherence (e.g., Dennison et al., 2014). Peers are a particularly good candidate to provide SA in the college student population given the crucial role of peer support in emerging adulthood (Swenson et al., 2008). While SA engagement and MHapp adherence are correlated, the directionality of this relationship remains unclear. More research is needed into peer SA (PSA) specifically, as findings are mixed on its impact on adherence. The present study examines these questions using data from an 8-week trial of Headspace in college students with depression. The study aims to (1) Describe the thematic content of participant engagement with PSA features, (2) Examine the impact of PSA features on adherence patterns, and (3) Analyze the interplay of PSA engagement and MHapp adherence over time.
Colleen Conley, PhD; Jenna Duffecy, PhD; Catherine Haden, PhD; Rebecca Silton, PhD