Study targets graduate student stress | 9/12/2019 | Staff
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Rebecca Fried readily acknowledges her doctoral research addressing stress among graduate students was, well, stressful. "The irony was never lost on me."

Even as she dug into her studies, sweated through deadlines and edited her dissertation, Fried knew her postgraduate peers were going through something similar.

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"Mental health is not an issue just for undergraduate students on campus; it's also an issue for graduate students. But graduate students don't tend to get studied a lot," said Fried, BHSc'12, MSc'14, who will convocate with her Ph.D. in October.

In a newly published study, Fried uncovered the benefits of a peer-coaching program focused on mentorship, motivational interviewing and life coaching among graduates—leading her to suggest the idea could be expanded.

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Her paper, "Breaking Grad: Building Resilience Among a Sample of Graduate Students Struggling with Stress and Anxiety via a Peer Coaching Model," appears in the International Journal of Evidence Based Coaching and Mentoring.

Study participants—all Western students—attended a full day of training and then took part in four sessions per month, over eight months. They alternated between being a coach and receiving coaching for an average of 28 sessions each. As receivers, they learned resilience and mindfulness techniques. As coaches, they learned active-listening skills and how to guide questions and answers without trying to 'fix' the receiver.

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Participants included only full-time postgraduate students experiencing stress and anxiety that interfered with daily living, but were not...
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