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Exploring the effects and benefits of a pilot school-based happiness mentoring programme with polytechnic students in Singapore

Abstract

The state of mental health and related high rates of depression in youth is a growing concern worldwide. Some populations, however, seem to be more vulnerable than others; and this is the case with polytechnic students in Singapore. Positive psychology interventions (PPIs) have been found to enhance the level of happiness and well-being of students when delivered in the school context. Intervention efforts have often been limited to a single or two to three PPI activities and rarely offered as a consolidated programme with multiple PPIs that would allow students to identify and adopt strategies that would best support their well-being. This quasi-experimental pilot study tested the effects of a school-based happiness mentoring programme largely based on the PERMA model on a small sample of full-time students of a polytechnic in Singapore. Over a period of 10 weeks, the programme conducted by a mentor offered multiple PPIs aimed at enhancing participating students’ level of happiness, well-being and student life satisfaction. While no statistically significant differences between the experimental and control groups were reported at pre- and post-intervention, statistically significant differences were found within each group. The results of paired t-tests showed significant statistical improvements in all variables within the experimental group, but the control group did not show significant within group improvements in Engagement, Meaning, Accomplishment and Student Life Satisfaction. These findings were supported by post-intervention structured interviews during which students reported having benefitted from specific PPIs in enhancing self-awareness, awareness of others and acquisition of several strategies that build positive emotions to sustain their well-being. Implications of the findings are discussed and suggestions for future research provided.

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Data Availability

The datasets generated for and analysed during the current study are available from the corresponding author on reasonable request.

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Correspondence to Cédric David Metrat-Depardon.

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Ethics Approval

It needs to be noted that this research study was conducted as part of a Master-in-Education (Developmental Psychology) programme at a Singapore university where the first author was pursuing his postgraduate degree. Ethics approval was obtained from the University’s IRB.

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Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.

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The authors declare no competing interests.

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Highlights

• Ten positive psychology interventions (PPIs) activities fostering happiness and well-being and based on the PERMA model (Seligman, 2011) were assembled to create a happiness mentoring programme;

• This programme was conducted over 10 weeks for a sample of tertiary students at a polytechnic in Singapore;

• The quasi-experimental   pilot study did not report significant differences between experimental and control group at pre- and post-test;

• The intervention reported more significant within-group gains for the experimental group than for the control group;

• The experimental group showed significant gains in Engagement, Meaning, Accomplishment and Student Life Satisfaction;

• Results of the post-intervention structured interviews show that the students in the experimental group seemed to have personally benefitted from the programme;

• Results and limitations are discussed (within group and between groups statistical gains, maturation effect, adherence to programme activities);

• Suggestions for future research is given in terms of structured PPIs to further explore and ascertain possible effects on adolescents’ happiness, life satisfaction and flourishing.

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Metrat-Depardon, C.D., Teo, C.T. Exploring the effects and benefits of a pilot school-based happiness mentoring programme with polytechnic students in Singapore. Curr Psychol (2021). https://doi.org/10.1007/s12144-021-02039-1

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Keywords

  • Happiness
  • Mentoring
  • Positive psychology interventions
  • School-based intervention
  • Well-being
  • Youth