Evaluating the Effectiveness of a Resilience Intervention on College Students’ Mental Illness and Subsequent Alcohol Use

Aitiana Ivonne Sanchez-Garciaguirre, University of Texas at El Paso


Mental illness and stigma surrounding mental illness are common among college-aged individuals. Alcohol use is also common among college-aged individuals, and often coexists with increased symptoms of mental illness, leading to unhealthy perpetual coping mechanisms. However, increased resilience and adaptive coping strategies may suppress the need to use alcohol as a coping mechanism when experiencing symptoms of mental illness and the stigma associated with it. The present study sought to utilize a resilience intervention to increase resilience and adaptive coping strategies among Hispanic college students to reduce their alcohol use and experiences of depression and/or anxiety. Additionally, the present study sought to establish the moderating effects that perceived and internalized stigma associated with mental illness has on the relationship between a resilience intervention and severity of alcohol use as well as symptoms of depression and/or anxiety. Lastly, the current study sought to evaluate the effect of the number of intervention sessions attended on the primary outcomes of interest (i.e., symptoms of mental illness and alcohol use). Participants (n=88; Mage= 21.86, SD = 6.08; 64.8% female; 78.9% Hispanic) completed a series of questionnaires at three different time points (baseline (Fall 2023), immediately post-intervention (Fall 2023), and 1-month post-intervention (Fall 2023 – Spring 2024)), that assessed their symptoms of mental illness, resilience, stigma towards mental illness, alcohol use, and alcohol use severity. Additionally, participants completed the Transforming Lives Through Resilience Education intervention. Results from the independent samples-tests suggested that there were no differences between participants who had completed the one-month follow-up and those who did not in sociodemographics. Additionally, most participants rated the resilience intervention as acceptable and feasible (M = 23.88, SD = 5.25 and M = 18.13, SD = 3.57, respectively). The results of the repeated measures MANOVA suggested that the resilience intervention was effective at reducing anxiety symptoms, but not depression symptoms, alcohol use severity, or alcohol consumption. The mediation analyses showed that resilience mediated the relationship between a 4-module intervention and depression as well as anxiety. Additionally, maladaptive coping strategies mediated the relationship between a 2-module intervention and depression symptoms. Lastly, a 2-module intervention increased protective behavioral strategies, but not alcohol abstinence self-efficacy. Overall, the current study provides a foundation for future research and intervention efforts aimed at addressing health disparities experienced by underrepresented populations, such as Hispanic college students. The current research lays the groundwork for developing targeted interventions aimed at promoting resilience and adaptive coping strategies.

Subject Area

Psychology|Clinical psychology|Mental health

Recommended Citation

Sanchez-Garciaguirre, Aitiana Ivonne, "Evaluating the Effectiveness of a Resilience Intervention on College Students’ Mental Illness and Subsequent Alcohol Use" (2024). ETD Collection for University of Texas, El Paso. AAI31235399.