Waterford News

Researchers at WIT to lead European project to tackle student stress

WIT main campusResearchers at Waterford Institute of Technology (WIT) have secured funding of almost €300,000 to lead a two year pan-European research project ‘Student Stress Training e-Mobile Management (SSTeMM)’.

Research over the last five years and recent news reports have highlighted that there is a rise in problems of mental wellbeing amongst people attending college, and the most marked increase in the rise in work stress is in the age group 18 to 25. In Ireland, the Government’s recent announcement in the Budget 2020 to fund work in the area of student health and well being reinforces the concerns for this group of young people.

The SSTeMM project aims to develop an end-user accessible digital mobile platform providing work based education, competency training and practice based stress management support tailored to the immediate needs of student nurses whilst they are in their clinical placement.

It is anticipated that a minimum of 200 student nurses, as well as their internship mentors, will participate in this project across Ireland, Spain, Slovenia and Kosovo.

Speaking at the recent project launch meeting, Project Co-ordinator, Professor John Wells, Head of the School of Health Science at WIT said “Mental distress amongst college students has considerably increased over the last 20 years or so. We also know that work-based stress is a major public health problem across Europe and that  the health care sector is one of the most significantly stressful employment environments. Student nurses have to attend college based and work in the health care environment to complete their nurse education. They are therefore subject to both college and work based stress at the same time during their education. The purpose of SSTeMM is to examine this potential double whammy faced by student nurses and develop supports for them to manage stress when it arises.”

SSTeMM will support student nurses to develop personal resilience to enhance their work engagement experience. It will equip these student nurses and the clinical staff who support them when on placement with stress management skills and competencies that will develop and support their personal wellbeing whilst in training and once they have qualified.

The School of Health Science, in collaboration with the Telecommunications Software Systems Group (TSSG) and the School of Humanities, at WIT is partnering UPMC Whitfield Hospital in Waterford; the University of Maribor Faculty of Health Sciences (UM FHS) in Slovenia; the School of Health Sciences Tecnocampus affiliated center, University Pompeu Fabra Barcelona, Spain; IBK Management Solutions in Wiesbaden, Germany and the University for Business and Technology in Kosovo. SSTeMM is funded by Erasmus Plus - Strategic Partnership for Higher Education - through the Higher Education Authority (HEA) in Ireland - to the value of €297,000.

The School of Health Science at WIT has a significant expertise in the field of work related stress in the health care sector having already led two major EU funded projects focused on the issue. This expertise considerably informs the current project. It is anticipated that SSTeMM’s impact will extend beyond student nurses, providing lessons on student stress management and support for a range of disciplines where work placement forms a significant part of the curriculum.

Congratulating the team on their success, Dr Mark White, Vice President for Research, Innovation & Graduate Studies at WIT said “this Erasmus Plus project is another great example of how researchers at WIT are at the forefront of significant projects that seek serious solutions to important social challenges and as a result have considerable societal impact.”

 

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