University Counseling Service for Improving Students’ Mental Health

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The main aims of this study were to provide an initial sociodemographic and clinical characterization of university students’ academic and psychological functioning and to investigate and compare the feasibility and clinical utility of psychotherapies (cognitive behavior vs. psychodynamic) delivered at a large University in Northern Italy for improving university students’ mental health, using self and observer-report measures. One hundred forty-9 students (102 women; MAge = 24.55, SD = 3.35) were consecutively interviewed and extensively assessed by independent clinicians of the Service before and after the intervention, using the Clinical Outcomes in Routine Evaluation and the Global Assessment Scale. Patients were enrolled in an individual psychotherapy and allocated to cognitive behavior or psychodynamic approach according to specific criteria. Psychotherapists who were not involved in the assessment phase administered the treatment. The majority of students was female and the most severe conditions emerged among students enrolled in philosophy, arts, and communication and medical schools. At posttreatment, all students improved both in terms of well-being and distress, regardless of the type of psychotherapy received. This improvement emerged both by students’ self-report and clinicians’ evaluations. These findings point to the feasibility and clinical utility of psychotherapy in promoting well-being and reducing young adults’ distress. The importance of university counseling services for promoting students’ mental health, and a positive transition to adulthood is discussed.

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