UCL News


UCL students offered online psychological support

22 April 2003

Testing is currently underway for an online project which aims to help UCL students cope with stress and anxiety.

The project forms the basis of a study by doctorate student Ed Freeman (Clinical Psychology) and stems from an interest in the 'informal' helping methods of support most people receive from friends, family and colleagues.

This project - the first of its kind at UCL - recognises the growing use of the web among young people. Students who may not wish to seek formal counselling can access support anonymously and from anywhere with internet access.

Ed hopes the project will reveal whether students find a web-based support service useful and ascertain the most effective help types. Ultimately, the aim is to set up a permanent site in conjunction with UCL's Counselling Service.

Students are invited to register for the project by completing a three-part questionnaire on their general psychological well-being, feelings about the UCL community and overall satisfaction with life. They are then randomly assigned one of two different 'helping' websites to use throughout the testing period. After a few months users will be asked the same questions again and asked to rate their experience of using the website

The 'helping' sites' content is based on the recognised kinds of problems that students experience, such as loneliness, anxiety, exam stress, eating disorders, procrastination and depression.

Following its launch last month, the project has received nearly 300 registrations - double the expected figure for the entire trial period. Ed believes this response illustrates the amount of anxiety that students experience.

Ed explained: "Some people may have simply registered out of curiosity, but the response also shows the level of worries students have."