Mindfulness as an Alternative for Supporting University Student Mental Health: Cognitive-Emotional and Depressive Self-Criticism Measures

Muhammad Abid Azam, Myriam Mongrain, Khushboo Vora, Meysam Pirbaglou, Saam Azargive, Tina Changoor, Noah Wayne, Crissa Guglietti, Alison Macpherson, Jane Irvine, Michael Rotondi, Dawn Smith, Daniel Perez, Paul Ritvo


Increases in university-based mental health problems require alternative mental health programs, applicable to students with elevated psychological risks due to personality traits. This study examined the cognitive-emotional outcomes of a university mindfulness meditation (MM) program and their relationship with Self-Criticism (SC), a personality factor linked to depressive vulnerability. University students (n = 71) were assessed at baseline with the Depressive Experiences Questionnaire (DEQ), a measure of depressive personality traits, and two outcome measures: Profile of Mood States (POMS) and Anxiety Sensitivity Index (ASI). Students attending the MM program were reassessed for outcomes at 3 follow up assessments over 2 semesters. Repeated measures analyses of variance revealed improved within-subjects effects with large or very large effect sizes for the subsample that completed the MM program (n = 18) on the POMS Tension-Anxiety, POMS Depression, POMS Fatigue, and Anxiety Sensitivity Index. Multiple linear regression using self-criticism as a predictor of change in depressed mood revealed that higher self-criticism predicted greater reductions in POMS Depression. This study provides evidence for MM-related cognitive-emotional benefits, suggesting that students with elevated self-critical traits may derive exceptional benefits evident in greater reductions of depressed mood.


mindfulness; meditation; mental health; university students; depression

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.17583/ijep.2016.1504

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