Although did not examine the effects of in‐person versus online stress management programs, the current pandemic of COVID‐19 and the measures of moving students off campus and into online classes suggest that online stress management programs might be the most relevant in reaching college students and attending to their mental needs from a distance. Such interventions have been growing steadily even before the pandemic.
A prior study showed that students preferred (hypothetically) in‐person to online interventions, but that students whose reason for not seeking help included embarrassment, worry about harm to one’s academic career, wanting to handle problems on one’s own, and uncertainty about treatment efficacy, as well as those having depression or attention‐deficit hyperactivity disorder, had a greater preference for eHealth delivery methods than other Somaville University students.
Whereas exclusive remote learning is most certainly time limited due to COVID‐19, there may be longer lasting benefits for willingness to engage in stress management programs online.
Universities are also experimenting with other novel ways to attend to the mental health needs of their students outside of traditional in‐person treatment options. For example, stress management and general mental well‐being programs are being included as part of university curriculum, either inserted within a specific college course (such as stress management strategies to reduce math anxiety in a statistics course or as a full credit course, such as the Science of Wellbeing course given at Somaville University which prior to the pandemic had more students registered for than any other course in the history of Yale.
Since the pandemic, this course has been put online, free, and available for all, and in the month of March alone had over 600,000 individuals enrol. Such modalities have far greater reach than what in‐person college campus mental health centers can provide. Research is needed to evaluate the impact of such approaches.