Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

Department

Psychology

Program Name/Specialization

Community Psychology

Faculty/School

Faculty of Science

First Advisor

Maritt Kirst

Advisor Role

Supervisor

Abstract

Post-secondary students are facing an unprecedented level of mental health concerns. While treating mental illness has traditionally been prioritized, mental health promotion strategies are also essential. Existing research has shown that mattering, one’s ability to feel valued by and add value to their community, can promote positive mental health in post-secondary students. Using mixed methods, the goal of this research was to explore the potential of community service learning (CSL), which allows students to participate in community placements in exchange for course credit, to increase student mattering and positive mental health. Pre- and post-online surveys were administered to a sample of nine post-secondary students in CSL placements and a control group of 37 students who were not completing CSL placements from Wilfrid Laurier University. Qualitative interviews were also conducted with a sub-sample of six CSL students and 14 community organization representatives supervising student placements. This research was conducted with Community and Workplace Partnerships at Wilfrid Laurier University. Although survey results did not demonstrate an impact of CSL on student sense of mattering or mental health, a significant relationship was found between higher levels of mattering and higher levels of positive mental health, and between higher levels of mattering and lower levels of stress, anxiety, and depression. Qualitative interview findings explored the mechanisms of these relationships and emphasized the importance of CSL for community organizations. Findings from this research will be used to inform CSL best-practices, offer support for expanding CSL programs beyond the social sciences, and provide a new perspective on how mental health promotion for post-secondary students can occur.

Convocation Year

2021

Convocation Season

Fall

Available for download on Sunday, March 27, 2022

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