Date of Award

Spring 2023

Document Type

Open Access Dissertation

Department

Educational Studies

First Advisor

Ryan G. Carlson

Abstract

On college campuses, there has been an increase in mental health needs among students. In 2019, 56% of students attended counseling for mental health concerns compared to 46% of students who attended in 2010 (The Center for Collegiate Mental Health, 2019). Colleges have begun focusing on student wellness to assist their students with the capability to thrive during their college years and beyond (LaFountaine et al., 2006). Basic psychological needs must be met to achieve psychological growth and wellbeing (Ryan & Deci, 2000b; Zhang et al., 2012). Taliaferro et al. (2009) found evidence of an association between physical activity and reduced risk of hopelessness, depression, and suicidal behavior among college students. The purpose of this study was to assess whether college students currently enrolled in physical activity (PA) courses show better wellness and psychological distress, and basic psychological needs than students who have not taken the courses. This study uses a casual comparative survey design with a convenience sample of recruited undergraduate students (N=172). Half of the participants were enrolled in elective PA courses offered through the university’s PA program. All participants will take the EUROHIS-QOL 8-item (EUROHIS-QOL; Schmidt et al., 2006), the Kessler Psychological Scale -10 (K10; Kessler et al., 2002), and Basic Psychological Need Satisfaction and Frustration Scale – In General (BPNSFS; Chen et al., 2015) to assess wellness, psychological distress, and basic psychological needs. Data were analyzed with descriptive statistics and multivariate analysis. The findings from this study will provide college health services professionals (e.g., counseling and wellness centers’ staff and faculty) with relevant information on the potential merits of PA programming as an intervention strategy for supporting students’ mental health and wellbeing.

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