Student Minds: How a 4-Week Mindfulness-Based Intervention Helped College Students

Coxon, A., Horne, R., Munthe-Kaas, H., Tunariu, A., Hoffmann, T., & Kemppinen, A. (2021). An evaluation of an online brief mindfulness-based intervention in university students. Frontiers in Psychology, 12, 752060.


Mental health issues among university students are growing  worldwide (Coxon et al., 2021). Mindfulness-based interventions (MBIs) have shown promise in improving mental health and wellbeing in student populations (Dawiri et al., 2016). However, access to traditional face-to-face MBIs can be limited due to logistical and resource constraints. Online MBIs offer a potential solution by increasing accessibility and flexibility (Spijkerman et al., 2016).

The current study evaluated the effectiveness of a brief, online MBI called Student Minds in improving wellbeing, perceived stress, mindfulness, and self-compassion among university students in the United Kingdom. The authors hypothesized that students who completed the 4-week online MBI would report significant improvements in these outcomes compared to a control group.


Participants were 189 university students (81% female, mean age = 23.5 years) recruited from two universities in the UK – King’s College London (n = 124) and the University of Sussex (n = 65). They were randomly assigned to either the online MBI (n = 94) or a wait-list control group (n = 95).

The online MBI consisted of four weekly sessions with videos, audio practices, and written materials based on mindfulness and self-compassion principles. Participants were instructed to engage in 10-20 minutes of daily mindfulness practice.

Measures of wellbeing (Mental Health Continuum-Short Form), perceived stress (Perceived Stress Scale), mindfulness (Cognitive and Affective Mindfulness Scale-Revised), and self-compassion (Self-Compassion Scale-Short Form) were administered at baseline, post-intervention (5 weeks), and 5-week follow-up.


Mixed ANOVAs revealed significant group x time interactions for wellbeing, perceived stress, mindfulness, and self-compassion.

For wellbeing, the MBI group showed significant improvements from baseline to post-intervention (d = 0.44) which were maintained at follow-up, while the control group did not change.

The MBI group reported reduced perceived stress from baseline to post-intervention (d = -0.38) and follow-up, while the control group did not change.

Mindfulness increased in the MBI group from baseline to post-intervention (d = 0.51) and follow-up, with no changes in the control group.

Self-compassion also improved in the MBI group from baseline to post-intervention (d = 0.35) and follow-up, but not the control group.


The results suggest the brief 4-week online Student Minds program was effective in improving wellbeing, reducing perceived stress, and increasing mindfulness and self-compassion in university students compared to a control group. Improvements were maintained at 5-week follow-up.

MBIs can help address barriers to accessing face-to-face programs and have potential for widespread dissemination.