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The transition to university and resultant social support network disruption can be detrimental to the mental health of university students. As the need for mental health support is becoming increasingly prevalent in students, identification of factors associated with poorer outcomes is a priority. Changes in social functioning have a bi-directional relationship with mental health, however it is not clear how such measures may be related to effectiveness of psychological treatments.
Growth mixture models were estimated on a sample of 5221 students treated in routine mental health services to identify different trajectories of change in self-rated impairment in social leisure activities and close relationships during the course of treatment. Multinomial regression explored associations between trajectory classes and treatment outcomes.
Five trajectory classes were identified for social leisure activity impairment while three classes were identified for close relationship impairment. In both measures most students remained mildly impaired. Other trajectories included severe impairment with limited improvement, severe impairment with delayed improvement, and, in social leisure activities only, rapid improvement, and deterioration. Trajectories of improvement were associated with positive treatment outcomes while trajectories of worsening or stable severe impairment were associated with negative treatment outcomes.
Changes in social functioning impairment are associated with psychological treatment outcomes in students, suggesting that these changes may be associated with treatment effectiveness as well as recovery experiences. Future research should seek to establish whether a causal link exists to understand whether integrating social support within psychological treatment may bring additional benefit for students.
Previous qualitative research suggests that university students feel that current service provision does not meet their needs. Exploring the reasons for this may help to promote service change, encourage the uptake of care, improve outcomes and increase satisfaction within university services.
This study aimed to improve the understanding of how students experience the process of accessing and using mental health support, barriers and facilitators to treatment, and how students would adapt provision to improve experiences.
Semi-structured interviews were conducted with 16 full-time students who had used mental health services at university. Data were analysed using thematic analysis.
Five higher-order themes were identified: personalisation and informed choice, simplifying the process, feeling abandoned ignored or invisible, stigma, and superiority of private and external services. Sixteen subthemes were identified within these themes.
Findings indicate that access to mental health support should be simplified, with collaboration across university and external health and care services, to prevent students feeling lost or abandoned when seeking care. An inclusive approach to support access and provision of services for all presentations of mental health problems should be developed.
This study aimed to investigate general factors associated with prognosis regardless of the type of treatment received, for adults with depression in primary care.
We searched Medline, Embase, PsycINFO and Cochrane Central (inception to 12/01/2020) for RCTs that included the most commonly used comprehensive measure of depressive and anxiety disorder symptoms and diagnoses, in primary care depression RCTs (the Revised Clinical Interview Schedule: CIS-R). Two-stage random-effects meta-analyses were conducted.
Twelve (n = 6024) of thirteen eligible studies (n = 6175) provided individual patient data. There was a 31% (95%CI: 25 to 37) difference in depressive symptoms at 3–4 months per standard deviation increase in baseline depressive symptoms. Four additional factors: the duration of anxiety; duration of depression; comorbid panic disorder; and a history of antidepressant treatment were also independently associated with poorer prognosis. There was evidence that the difference in prognosis when these factors were combined could be of clinical importance. Adding these variables improved the amount of variance explained in 3–4 month depressive symptoms from 16% using depressive symptom severity alone to 27%. Risk of bias (assessed with QUIPS) was low in all studies and quality (assessed with GRADE) was high. Sensitivity analyses did not alter our conclusions.
When adults seek treatment for depression clinicians should routinely assess for the duration of anxiety, duration of depression, comorbid panic disorder, and a history of antidepressant treatment alongside depressive symptom severity. This could provide clinicians and patients with useful and desired information to elucidate prognosis and aid the clinical management of depression.
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