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How Fika was used to support the transition of new university students

Published on
11 Jan 2022
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The mental health of university students

Starting university is a key life challenge with the potential for psychological distress. 

Universities have a limited mental health resource but an increasing demand for their counselling services (Institute of public policy research, 2017). This has led to calls for earlier intervention.

Fika’s app-based intervention

In association with a UK University, we conducted a randomised control trial (RCT) with 92 students. The aim was to investigate the effect that the Fika app had on life satisfaction, self-efficacy and positive affect. Each of these positive psychological variables are linked with a successful university transition, and were tracked for 6 weeks. To ensure fairness, students were compared with an active control group who used a journaling app. 

Over the course of 6 weeks, students were asked to use the Fika app a minimum of 3 times a week. This contained evidence-based 5 minute mental fitness exercises influenced by positive psychology. These activities included being grateful, finding meaning and using your strengths.

The positive impact of Fika

After 6 weeks, students using the Fika app showed significant improvement in life satisfaction, positive affect and self-efficacy compared to an active control group. 

Students also reported a reduction in negative affect. Each of these are protective psychological variables and are associated with a successful university transition. 

This case study shows how the practice of short but regular mental fitness training can positively impact the mental health of students during a key life transition.

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