Study Overview

College represents a significant transition for many from adolescence into young adulthood. It marks a period of significant change for many – a shift into adulthood, with more independence and, often, more responsibility. While it can be an exciting phase in a young person’s life, this change can also come with a lot of uncertainty and stress.

Young adults ages 18-25 are undergoing vast changes in emotion regulation. Many may lack the strategies and coping skills that they need to safely manage distress and end up developing negative, potentially harmful coping mechanisms instead.

To address this problem, a group of researchers at the University of Connecticut has received a grant from the National Institutes of Health to test the effectiveness of various interventions. The interventions are designed to target underlying problems with emotion regulation and help individuals’ develop safe and healthy stress-management abilities.

Michael Fendrich, professor and associate dean of research for the School of Social Work, Crystal Park, professor of psychology, and Beth Russell, associate professor of human development and family sciences and director of the Center for Applied Research in Human Development, are co-PIs on this project.

This study will provide valuable information about the effectiveness of different types of interventions. If college campuses can select interventions that are more effective for students with a range of risk characteristics, they stand to improve distress management in young adults across their campuses.

“Our work is the fruit of ongoing collaborations between an interdisciplinary team of researchers from psychology, human development and family sciences, social work, and nursing. In the development of this application, we received critical support from UConn’s Institute for Collaboration on Health, Intervention, and Policy (InCHIP),” Fendrich says. “We are excited to launch this innovative project at UConn that, in the long term, may have potential benefit for our students.”

Michael Fendrich holds a Ph.D. in community psychology from the University of Texas at Austin. His research focuses on policies, services, interventions, and risk factors related to substance misuse and mental health.

Crystal Park received her Ph.D. from the University of Delaware in clinical psychology. Her research interests include stress, coping, meaning making, the psychology of religion and spirituality, trauma, cancer survivorship and yoga.

Beth Russell received her Ph.D. from the University of Connecticut in human development and family sciences. Her research focuses on self-regulation in normative and at-risk samples.

Interested in participating in the PACER Study? Click here.