Harnessing mobile technology to reduce mental health disorders in college populations: A randomized controlled trial study protocol

Ellen E. Fitzsimmons-Craft, C. Barr Taylor, Michelle G. Newman, Nur Hani Zainal, Elsa E. Rojas-Ashe, Sarah Ketchen Lipson, Marie Laure Firebaugh, Peter Ceglarek, Naira Topooco, Nicholas C. Jacobson, Andrea K. Graham, Hyungjin Myra Kim, Daniel Eisenberg, Denise E. Wilfley

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


About a third of college students struggle with anxiety, depression, or an eating disorder, and only 20–40% of college students with mental disorders receive treatment. Inadequacies in mental health care delivery result in prolonged illness, disease progression, poorer prognosis, and greater likelihood of relapse, highlighting the need for a new approach to detect mental health problems and engage college students in services. We have developed a transdiagnostic, low-cost mobile mental health targeted prevention and intervention platform that uses population-level screening to engage college students in tailored services that address common mental health problems. We will test the impact of this mobile mental health platform for service delivery in a large-scale trial across 20+ colleges. Students who screen positive or at high-risk for clinical anxiety, depression, or an eating disorder and who are not currently engaged in mental health services (N = 7884) will be randomly assigned to: 1) intervention via the mobile mental health platform; or 2) referral to usual care (i.e., campus health or counseling center). We will test whether the mobile mental health platform, compared to referral, is associated with improved uptake, reduced clinical cases, disorder-specific symptoms, and improved quality of life and functioning. We will also test mediators, predictors, and moderators of improved mental health outcomes, as well as stakeholder-relevant outcomes, including cost-effectiveness and academic performance. This population-level approach to service engagement has the potential to improve mental health outcomes for the millions of students enrolled in U.S. colleges and universities.

Original languageEnglish
Article number106320
JournalContemporary Clinical Trials
StatePublished - Apr 2021


  • Anxiety
  • College mental health
  • Depression
  • Eating disorders
  • Prevention
  • Screening
  • Treatment
  • mHealth


Dive into the research topics of 'Harnessing mobile technology to reduce mental health disorders in college populations: A randomized controlled trial study protocol'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this