Recommendations for a ‘Wellbeing Curriculum’ to Mitigate Undergraduate Psychological Distress Associated with Lack of Careers Confidence and Poor University Engagement

  •  Julia Choate    
  •  Danica Vojisavljevic    
  •  Fiona Y. Carroll    
  •  David Carroll    
  •  Caitlin E. Filby    
  •  Bernhard Dichtl    


To foster a ‘wellbeing curriculum’ in a climate with an increasingly competitive graduate jobs market, we believe it is critical to support undergraduate career development and to develop positive peer and educator relationships, particularly for non-vocational degree programs. However, these relationships between undergraduate wellbeing and their career development or peer/educator relationships have not been specifically examined. This study used a mixed methods approach to examine if poor career development or university engagement (quality of relationships with peers or educators, use of the university careers and counselling services, time studying) were associated with psychological distress for students in non-vocational degree programs. Undergraduates (biomedical science; n=1100) from five Australian universities participated in a survey to investigate relationships between psychological distress, as determined by their responses to the Depression, Anxiety and Stress Scales, and their career development or university engagement. Almost half of the students lacked confidence in their ‘future employment and job prospects’. Students’ psychological distress was significantly correlated with lack of confidence with their career development, poor relationships with their peers and educators and little use of the counselling service. Further exploration of these factors in student focus groups highlighted stress associated with academic competition between students and a critical need for undergraduate career development, especially industry placements. We provide pivotal recommendations to promote undergraduate and educator wellbeing, by developing a ‘wellbeing curriculum’ that supports career development and positive relationships between students and their peers and educators, particularly vital for non-vocational degrees.

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