Student mental health profiling for targeted and personalised support interventions

Foster, Carly and Derrick, Gemma (2023) Student mental health profiling for targeted and personalised support interventions. PhD thesis, Lancaster University.

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This research used mixed methods to explore how universities may incorporate profiling into their mental health support packages by creating student mental health profiles to target and personalise pastoral care. There were two research questions which ask what types of data can be used to create such profiles and how they may be used in practice by staff. Quantitative methods were used to collect mental health data via the WHO-5 survey; the data was analysed and combined with other student data based on known risk factors to create a series of student mental health profiles. The profiles were presented to a university mental health team via a presentation and then qualitative data was collected via semi-structured interviews to explore staff perceptions of profiling. In total, 28 profiles were created, and eleven use cases were identified for their application in university settings. This study found the rate of students’ completion of the WHO-5 survey varied during the year with method of data capture significantly impacting participation rates. The data and resulting clusters supported the creation of profiles with 2 or 3 optimal clusters for each dataset. Whilst some profiles were limited in context beyond the WHO-5 data they did facilitate use cases which staff identified as being applicable to targeting and personalising support. Including additional contextual data about students did not increase the quantity of viable clusters but did improve the quality of the resulting profiles in terms distinctiveness and staff understanding. This research finds SMHP is an approach capable of facilitating targeted and personalised support for all students in university settings- not just those at risk and seeking help. Profiling has been found to have many other use cases not previously explored in the literature. The approach requires further investigation into more relevant variables at the positive end of the wellbeing spectrum and service designers should be aware of the areas where further research is recommended.

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Thesis (PhD)
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04 Oct 2023 11:35
Last Modified:
16 Jul 2024 06:05