Understanding the influence of quality of living course on undergraduate mental health: A qualitative study


University students have lower levels of mental health compared to the general population. Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, a further decline in university student mental health has been reported, emphasizing the growing concern for this population. Positive psychology courses could provide undergraduate students with the tools and techniques to cope with academic demands, life stresses, and a global pandemic. One such course, the Quality of Living course, exists at the University of Ottawa; however, its impact on student mental health has yet to be examined. Thus, the purpose of this study was to explore the perspectives of the students in this course and how they believe the course has influenced their mental health 1-year after taking the course and during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with students (n=10) who took the course in the Winter 2020 semester. Thematic analysis of the transcripts is currently underway to develop common themes from the data. High-level overview of the data suggests that the course provides techniques that are transferable to real-life situations, and these techniques have been maintained 1-year after completion of the course. Additionally, students reported that the course has improved their overall mental health throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. These results suggest that positive psychology courses like the one investigated in this study could play a valuable role in improving undergraduate student mental health. This knowledge fills many gaps in the literature and can be used to inform the development and implementation of future positive psychology courses.