uci school of nursing faculty melissa pinto is developing an mHealth app called C-STRESS

Melissa Pinto, PhD, has been awarded a grant to develop and test a mHealth app for college students experiencing symptoms of stress and depression.

The National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH)-funded project is called “mHealth application called CBCT Sessions to Treat and Reduce Elevated Stress among Students (C-STRESS).”

Pinto, an associate professor at the UCI Sue & Bill Gross School of Nursing, says that nearly half of all college students in the U.S. struggle with high levels of stress and depressive symptoms.

Good mental health is a necessary foundation for student success in academics and life. Symptoms of stress and depression lead to difficulties completing day-to-day activities, including academic responsibilities.

Untreated mental health problems not only elevate students’ risks for immediate and long-term health problems, but they can also be fatal. Suicide is one of the leading causes of death for young adults in the country.

C-STRESS builds on Pinto’s previous research with college students, which used a mind-body intervention called Cognitively-Based Compassion Training (CBCT).

CBCT strengthens the skills of:

  • Attention
  • Mindfulness
  • Self-compassion
  • Compassion for others

C-STRESS will ultimately place an evidence-based tool at the fingertips of college students who will be able to access it when they need it.

“We hope such a tool can help students feel better in the short-term while providing them skills they can use for a lifetime,” Pinto says.

mHealth tools such as C-STRESS can be added to current treatment or used as a standalone treatment.