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Research report

Promoting the mental health and academic success of university students

In Québec, many post-secondary students grapple with different types of anxiety that undermine their quality of life and academic success.

As part of this project, a peer support program was developed to support these students.

Taking inspiration in the acceptance and engagement approach, the program was led by graduate students online and remotely in three Montréal universities from September 2019 to April 2021.

The findings reveal that, compared to the participants in the control group, undergraduate students who took part in the program reported more flexibility, increased psychological well-being and fewer symptoms of anxiety, stress and depression. They also said the effects continued for up to five weeks after the end of the program.

The project made it possible to determine the factors that impede and facilitate the implementation of peer support programs in post-secondary institutions, set out recommendations on best practices and better understand the experiences of students who provide peer support, more specifically the challenges they face and learnings they take away from the program.

Overall, the results suggest that online peer support is an effective alternative means to promote the mental health of university students. In addition, this type of support serves to broaden and diversify the mental health services available in higher education institutions.

Main researcher

Simon Grégoire, Université du Québec à Montréal

Original title: Élaboration et évaluation d’un programme de soutien par les pairs inspiré de l’approche d’acceptation et d’engagement destiné à promouvoir la santé mentale et la réussite scolaire des étudiants universitaires

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