Mental health is a pressing concern for university students, with increasing numbers of students seeking mental health services in recent years. Dr. Shelby Levine and colleagues (2020) investigated whether recreational reading could improve the mental health of students by helping them fulfill core psychological needs. They hypothesized that recreational reading could decrease feelings of isolation and low competence, and serve as a form of resistance against restrictive academic environments.
At the beginning of the academic year, 201 college students reported their psychological distress, recreational reading goals, and autonomous motivation to read (i.e., of their own volition). At the end of the year, psychological distress and recreational reading achievements were measured again. The researchers discovered that psychological distress was much greater in all students at the end of the year. However, those who read more books had a smaller increase in distress than those who had read less. Further, autonomous motivation to read predicted a more ambitious reading goal, as well as more books completed by the end of the year. Lastly, the more books students read, the less frustrated they felt in terms of core needs, which led to less distress.
The authors conclude that fostering an intrinsic love of recreational reading in children and youth should be a key goal for parents and teachers. Based on their findings, promoting and supporting a love for reading could be an effective way to help students cope with the stressors of university.
Post by Shyamaly Vasuthevan
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