FSU’s Student Resilience Project Continues to Support Students During COVID

FSU’s College of Communication and Information and College of Social Work continue an interdisciplinary research collaboration to explore how the university can help students deal with the stress of the COVID-19 pandemic through an online-accessible resource.

In 2018, members of CCI and CSW originally partnered to explore ways to enhance student well-being through the FSU Student Resilience Project (SRP). The SRP was initially designed as an online, evidence-informed trauma resilience training tool to help students through difficult and stressful situations.

Although when this project began, no one thought the world would face a devastating health pandemic.

“This partnership between CCI and CSW has allowed us to respond quickly to the pandemic. Our health messaging now emphasizes wearing masks, and our public health focus acknowledges the negative impact of the virus on mental health. We were able to offer students tools aimed at coping with the uncertainty of the pandemic by the end of the spring semester. It’s so helpful to have a multidisciplinary partnership throughout this historic time,” said Karen Oehme, Director of the Student Resilience Project.

As the COVID-19 crisis developed in the United States, the SRP was adapted to address new stressors faced by students. In addition to engaging animation, videos and TED-talk style educational sessions, COVID-19 specific resources were added to the main page – accessible to anyone in need of help.

Alongside Oehme, Dean James Clark (CSW) and other colleagues within the CSW, Dr. Laura Arpan (CCI) and Dr. Elizabeth Ray (CCI) have begun conducting new COVID-specific research designed to investigate how students are responding to the crisis and how the use of the website may help them cope with these difficult times.

“During this health crisis, we have been exploring the unique worries and stressors faced by students, particularly among those in communities who may be more adversely affected than others,” said Dr. Arpan.

Findings from a survey conducted over the summer indicate that 70% of freshman surveyed feel that the SRP website can help them and about 25% have used the site for help specifically during COVID-19.

“There are already identifiable groups of students who may need greater access to resources to cope with the COVID-19 crisis, due to health inequities. Our current research is designed to explore how these group differences – especially among first-time college students – factor into the use of the SRP, which is aimed at influencing student well-being,” said Dr. Ray.

Since the start of the SRP two years ago, the team of researchers has published five other journal articles investigating how the design, use and implementation of the online intervention may help students both at FSU and across the country.

While this semester looks very different for many students, the FSU Student Resilience Project is providing guidance, support, and reassurance during this trying time.