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Study indicates that Nod use buffered the most at-risk students from experiencing loneliness and depression during the first month of college
San Francisco (October 20, 2020) – Hopelab and Grit Digital Health announced today new data about the effectiveness of Nod, an app that tackles the pervasive and growing problem of loneliness in college students. Designed to support college students’ well-being, Nod uses evidence-based principles of positive psychology, cognitive behavioral therapy, motivational interviewing, and mindful self-compassion to engage students in meaningful activities that boost their skills to build social connections. The Nod app is now available to be licensed by colleges and universities as a helpful resource to students, whether they are on campus or virtual.
In a 2019 randomized controlled trial conducted with 221 first-year college students, 4 weeks of Nod use prevented loneliness and depression among those students most at risk at the start of the year. Additionally, there were similar patterns of improved outcomes for sleep quality, campus belonging, social support, and intention to return to college among students who used Nod compared to those who were in a control group, according to results published today in the Journal of Medical Internet Research Mental Health (JMH).
“Loneliness is a pervasive problem, particularly for young people who already struggle with feeling connected on campus, including first-generation and underrepresented minority students,” said Dr Jennifer Pfeifer, a lead investigator of the Nod study and Professor in the Department of Psychology at the University of Oregon. “The initial evidence from our study suggested Nod may help freshmen who are at greatest risk, and this gives me hope.”
Loneliness among youth and young adults is a widespread and significant problem that has only been exacerbated by COVID-19. A recent Centers for Disease Control survey showed that 75% of young adults had at least one adverse mental or behavioral health symptom during COVID-19. Now, higher education leaders are facing the unprecedented challenge of supporting the social and mental well-being of students while COVID-19 precautions continue to disrupt traditional university programs and services. “Providing a holistic wellness experience is extremely important at CU Denver and mental health is a significant part of that experience,” said Kristin Kushmider, Assistant Vice Chancellor of Health, Wellness, Advocacy & Support, University of Colorado, Denver. “We have seen an increase in students presenting in crisis, so we are making every effort to focus on prevention and help students develop the skills they need to manage their mental health. Accessible, mental health tools are important for all members of campus, and the Nod app is a great place to start.”
Cocreated with college-aged youth, Nod’s award-winning design offers prompts and tips that are fun for students to use. The app gives ideas for both online and offline college experiences. “This year is harder than ever for college students to navigate the social environment of their first year,” said Dr Danielle Ramo, PhD, Senior Director of Research at Hopelab and coinvestigator of the Nod pilot study. “Prompts like ‘send a note to someone you see in one of your virtual classes’ adapt to this new moment and help lonely students know that there are ways to still make meaningful connections.”
Students helped inform the design and content of Nod at every stage and are now the champions for bringing this resource to their campuses. “Nod gave me the opportunity not only to connect with my peers in hard and uncertain times, but also innovative ways to think about connection,” said Ciara Kelly, recent University of California, Los Angeles graduate. “I loved how tailored the app felt to me and how I may be feeling in the current moment; this helped me reflect on how Nod was making a positive impact on my mental well-being. I look forward to sharing Nod as a resource with my peers at UCLA.”
Nod is currently available to students through their universities as an enterprise solution. Any student or administrator interested in bringing the Nod app to their campus can request a demo at heynod.com.
Hopelab is a nonprofit social innovation lab based in San Francisco, CA that creates behavior-change tech to help teens and young adults live happier, healthier lives. The organization works with young people to cocreate interventions grounded in behavioral science and human-centered design, conducts rigorous testing, and distributes these solutions in collaboration with partners. Learn more at hopelab.org.
About Grit Digital Health
Grit Digital Health develops behavioral health solutions through design and technology that envision a new way to approach mental health and well-being. They are the creators of You at College, a digital platform that personalizes well-being for students, and Man Therapy, a groundbreaking men’s mental health campaign. The company solves complex health problems through innovation and creativity. For more information, visit gritdigitalhealth.com and youatcollege.com.
Bruehlman-Senecal E, Hook CJ, Pfeifer JH, FitzGerald C, Davis B, Delucchi KL, Haritatos J, Ramo DE
Smartphone App to Address Loneliness Among College Students: Pilot Randomized Controlled Trial
JMIR Ment Health 2020;7(10):e21496