For many, college marks a transition from adolescence to adulthood due to changes in social context, such as increased freedom and independence. College also defines a period of time during which mental illnesses present or worsen. Thus, there is a significant need for interventions that can alleviate stress, anxiety and depression starting at the time college. This study will evaluate the potential for 3 different interventions that vary in terms of cost, materials, and implementation challenges to quantify changes in behavior, health, and well-being in young adults using a biometric wearable. The interventions are a group therapy treatment, a physical activity regime, and increasing time in nature. The current study aims to determine the extent that these interventions improve functioning as measured by wearable sensors that provide a more ecologically valid assessment of such outcomes. This study is a continuation of a prior observational study on the use of wearables to quantify well-being using such wearables in young adults (18-24 years).

Mindfulness to recover from trauma

More than 3 in 4 adults will be exposed to a potentially traumatic event in their lifetime, and approximately 1 in 4 of those adults will develop chronic psychopathology such as posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) within a year of trauma exposure. Elevated arousal in response to trauma cues after experiencing a potentially traumatic event is normal, and declines within a month of exposure among those who do not develop PTSD. Mindfulness meditation is an evidence-based meditation strategy effective for treating PTSD symptoms by targeting arousal in response to trauma cues. Thus, by delivering mindfulness meditation to trauma exposed individuals its efficacy at reducing arousal to threat cues shortly after exposure to a potentially traumatic event can be assessed. This project is funded by UVM. (PI: Matt Price)

Measuring emotion without language

A majority of individuals in the United States cannot read above a 6th grade level and a substantial portion are functionally illiterate. Those of lower socioeconomic status are more likely to be among these struggling readers as well as those exposed to maltreatment and trauma in early life. By contrast, many measures of psychopathology and affect (including this paragraph) are written at 10th or above grade level. There is a need for tools to measure affect that do not rely on advanced literacy skills. This project aims to validate a scale of affect that does not require language. PI: Matt Price