The present study aimed at assessing the effectiveness of a web based intervention in reducing hopelessness among college students. Unsurprisingly, the mean score of the students before the intervention was 4.45 with 4.
05 standard deviation, lying in the mild range of Beck Hopelessness Scale. The students lying in the mild , moderate and severe range of hopelessness were given a web based intervention focusing on what is hope, teaching ABC model, identification of negative automatic thoughts, countering those thoughts and positive behavior enhancement. Each module has different exercises for the students to perform. Overall, the level of hopelessness decreased significantly over the course of the study, which is quite evident from the results of paired samples t-test (p < .05).
The mean score of the students after intervention was 3.67, with 3.44 standard deviation. A hopeless individual often tends to indulge in self destructive behavior and it may lead to suicide.
A significant positive correlation was found between self destructiveness and hopelessness scores for both men and women (Kelly, Rollings, & Harmon, 2005). Few empirical studies have focused on the associations among suicide proneness, hopelessness, and depression cross-culturally. Hopelessness and depressive symptoms were significantly associated with suicide proneness in both the US and Japanese cultures (Lamis et al.
, 2014). Circumstances in the individual’s environment, precipitating stress events, and personal feelings such as alienation, helplessness, hopelessness, agony and despair are important aspects of human behaviour which are common to all suicidal individuals and can be applied to the indian youth (Johnson & Tomren, 1999). Thus, the need for intervention definitely plays a vital role in developing a positive mental attitude, not just about oneself, but also about the looming future. The need of the hour is to improve the behaviour pattern of the sample and reducing the hopelessness quotient in them. Hopelessness in the youth appears to be associated with specific patterns of behavioral and emotional problems. To enhance the social support network of youngsters with high level of hopelessness anger management, emotional expression interventions can be integrated and families can be involved in the treatment (Kashani, Suarez, Allan, & Reid, 1997).The results support some of the previous research studies that suggest that significant reductions were seen in the depressive symptoms of hopelessness which indicated that the web based interventions that may hold a promise when it comes to reducing hopelessness and suicide ideations among college students (Robinson et al.
, 2016). Web based interventions are subjected to high attrition rates. Dropouts from the study can introduce selection bias and can be a threat to its validity. Thus to reduce the attrition rate, Beck Hopelessness Scale was presented at the end separately after the successful completion of the intervention. This helped us keep the sample base constant and simultaneously keep the attrition rate low. A reminder email of the preceding module was sent to the students every week and it was ensured that they complete the previous module properly before going on to the second module.
In order to reduce non usage attrition, it was ensured that their responses and feedbacks were taken on a weekly basis. The students were asked whether they want to express anything, how they were feeling or if they had any kind of feedback that they wanted to share after completing a module or if they felt something while conducting those modules. There was no compulsion for the students to share their exercises, their feelings and their experiences. It was totally their discretion to share or to not share their experiences and changes, if any. Anonymous participation could not be possible because the students were being assessed on their level of hopelessness and for intervention they needed to be contacted again. Because of this, we made sure of their privacy and before starting the whole research asked them if they’d want to be a part of the process throughout or not. Also, we made sure that their confidentiality and privacy was respected.
We made sure that none of the information i.e., the feedback and any queries by them were kept to ourselves. For that matter even the intervention video was sent to only the participating sample. Nobody had access to that very video apart from us and the participants.According to one of the students, she felt a drastic change in her outlook towards life and future and wanted to continue doing these exercises even after the research had come to and end. She felt that the video was quite impactful and it made her realise that there is much more than just being hopeless and worried about something that hasn’t even happened or is not in our control. Her score drastically fell, which is a good sign, because her hopelessness level dropped tremendously.
Very few of our participants actually came out to us to share and express their grief, fears, and feelings of hopelessness before the intervention. And after the intervention too, some of the participants actually felt a drastic change in themselves and were more positive and hopeful, so to say. This entire feedback process speaks for itself. It most certainly proves that the intervention was really helpful and effective and it did do justice to the entire grounding of the research. The main purpose, the whole objective of the research was fulfilled by honest feedback by the participants. Thus, the participants played a major role involuntarily, without any biases to understand the hopelessness which is very common in college students, and thus reducing the level of hopelessness using some intervention techniques.
Participants, being a very active part also helped in the whole process. The idea was to actually construct an intervention that affects the college going student sample so that there is a subsequent change in their attitude and their outlook towards their academic pressure and a need to be socially validated, and to fit in. Also with the recurrent thoughts of suicide, the intervention was more so a necessary step to impart motivation in the right manner, and inculcate feelings of hope, positivity, confidence and a feeling that everything is going to be alright. Moreover, the research study was conducted throughout had a positive approach, though a proper rapport could not be formed between the participants and the researchers, but we tried our best to keep the strings attached and to know each and everything that is a cause of concern or has to be noted rightfully.
Individuals with stigmatizing psychiatric illnesses are more likely to search through internet to access health information and for communicating with the professionals (Spijker, Straten ,& Kerkhof, 2010). Many people feel that the information provided face-to-face is likely to be helpful, websites and other tools that maintain anonymity are often preferred by people who find themselves in dealing with the mental illnesses alone (Leach, Christensen, Griffiths, Jorm, & Mackinnon, 2007). Millennial generation, i.e., the youth of today relies more on internet for information and it is often not possible to deliver face-to-face intervention to the people because of various factors such as time issue, proximity, level of understanding, language barriers etc. As more and more people are integrating internet into their daily lives, it is being recognised as a powerful tool for intervention and prevention programs (Levy & Strombeck, 2002). Web based interventions are helpful as they can reach to a large number of participants at the same time with low costs.
It can also reach to the people who cannot get an easy access to the professionals. Further, it is also helpful to the people who want their identity to remain anonymous. These interventions can be tailored and self paced according to the needs of an individual. One can very correctly understand the need of the sample taken so that the intervention then constructed is actually proved to be useful and effective. A research study has found that information about depression and interventions which were delivered via the internet were more effective than a credible control intervention in reducing symptoms of depression (Christensen, Griffiths, & Jorm, 2004). Thus, web based interventions can be an effective way of providing interventions to the participants. The effectiveness of these interventions need to be studied on rural population also. It was one of the limitations of this study that the sample taken was of age group 18-25 years, college going population living in Delhi.
Due to this, a lot of factors could not be taken into consideration such as socioeconomic status, lifestyle, living conditions, societal approaches, etc. For benefitting a large group of population the study should be further studied on a diverse sample. Further research needs to be done in this area on its effectiveness in reducing other behaviors such as substance abuse, smoking, violence, and aggression.