Hope and Gratitude as Self-Management Tools for Excessive Worry in HE Students

PATTINSON, Cameron Jamie (2022). Hope and Gratitude as Self-Management Tools for Excessive Worry in HE Students. Doctoral, Sheffield Hallam University.

Pattinson_2022_PhD_HopeAndGratitude.pdf - Accepted Version
Creative Commons Attribution Non-commercial No Derivatives.

Download (8MB) | Preview
Link to published version:: https://doi.org/10.7190/shu-thesis-00502


The prevalence of undergraduate student mental health problems is a growing concern (Grubic et al., 2020), but undergraduate students often do not seek support at their universities or are faced with long waiting lists from the universities and the NHS (Watkins et al., 2012). In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, moderate-severe anxiety has increased in undergraduates from 18.1% to 25.3% (Fruehwirth et al., 2021). However, mental health support is usually aimed at those with severe symptoms, and those with moderate, non-pathological symptoms are often overlooked despite struggling. Students undertake several transition periods throughout their university lives, in which student mental health is negatively affected (El Ansari et al., 2014). The aim of this research was to examine student mental health and develop a positive psychology intervention (PPI) that both alleviated mental health symptoms and provided students with self-management resources for the future. Study 1 examined the mental health of 226 undergraduate students before a transition period and 102 students after a transition period through a mixed methods survey. The results showed that anxiety was elevated before and after a transition period, whereas depression worsened after the transition period and worry slightly improved. Hope, gratitude, curiosity, optimism, and the Big 5, were found to predict student mental health differently before and after the transition period, and resilience was found to mediate all relationships. In Study 2, a PPI named the ‘Worry Workshop’ was developed and delivered to four groups of four students, two groups during a transition period and two groups after a transition period. The results showed that hope and gratitude was successful in decreasing worry, anxiety, and depression, and increasing life satisfaction, with the effects maintained for three months. In Study 3, interviews were held with the participants of the Worry Workshop, and thematic analysis was used to generate themes from the data: perceptions of mental health, the impact of COVID-19, lack of support access and disappointment, challenging preconceptions of positive psychology, inhibitors to engagement, motivation beyond the intervention, group behaviours, and embedded interventions and alterations. Overall, this research demonstrates the need for early intervention in university students to prevent the development of excessive worry, anxiety, and depression, and provides a cost-effective, flexible intervention that could be implemented into undergraduate university courses and wellbeing services. Practical, methodological, theoretical, and policy recommendations are made.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Thesis advisor - Macaskill, Ann [0000-0001-9972-8699]
Thesis advisor - Freeman, Elizabeth [0000-0002-6494-3783]
Thesis advisor - Coleman, Charlotte
Additional Information: Director(s) of Studies: Professor Ann Macaskill, followed by Dr Elizabeth Freeman Supervisor: Dr Charlotte Coleman
Research Institute, Centre or Group - Does NOT include content added after October 2018: Sheffield Hallam Doctoral Theses
Identification Number: https://doi.org/10.7190/shu-thesis-00502
Depositing User: Justine Gavin
Date Deposited: 09 Feb 2023 16:02
Last Modified: 20 Nov 2023 01:18
URI: https://shura.shu.ac.uk/id/eprint/31455

Actions (login required)

View Item View Item


Downloads per month over past year

View more statistics