College and university students across the United States are experiencing increases in depressive symptoms and risk for clinical depression. As college counseling centers strive to address the problem through wellness outreach and education, limited resources make it difficult to reach students who would most benefit. Technology-based prevention programs have the potential to increase reach and address barriers to access encountered by students in need of mental health support.
This article describes the development of the Willow intervention, an adaptation of the researchers’ technology-based CATCH-IT depression prevention intervention for use by students at a women’s liberal arts college. The article then presents data from a pilot study of Willow with 34 students. Twenty-nine participants (85%) logged onto Willow at least once, and eight (24%) completed the full intervention.
Participants positively rated the acceptability, appropriateness, and feasibility of Willow. After eight weeks of use, results suggested decreases in depressive symptoms, anxiety symptoms, and rumination. This internet-based prevention intervention was found to be acceptable, feasible to implement, and may be associated with decreased symptoms.