Author Identifiers

Erin Nichols
ORCID: 0000-0002-1279-785X

Date of Award


Degree Type

Thesis - ECU Access Only

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts (Psychology) Honours


School of Arts and Humanities

First Advisor

Dr Craig Harms


Elevated psychological distress is a phenomenon experienced across university student populations, including psychology undergraduates. To provide an evidence base for interventions to target psychological distress at the curriculum level, this correlational study examined self-care, dispositional mindfulness, and autonomous functioning as protective factors for the experience of self-reported psychological distress symptoms in a convenience sample of 157 Australian psychology undergraduates. Forty four percent of students reported elevated symptoms of psychological distress, and average psychological distress scores were significantly higher than general population norms. In partial support of the hypotheses, hierarchical multiple regression analysis found that, while controlling for covariates, dispositional mindfulness, and self-care—but not autonomous functioning—uniquely predicted lower psychological distress. There was also a significant interaction; the main effect for self-care depended on dispositional mindfulness being at low to average levels, and the main effect for dispositional mindfulness depended on self-care being at low to average levels. Findings provide support for curriculum level interventions to develop both mindfulness skills and self-care competencies as early as possible in the study journey for psychology undergraduates. Recommendations for future research include exploration of risk factors for psychological distress in this group, in addition to testing how curriculum interventions impact self-care, mindfulness, and psychological distress over time

Access Note

Access to appendices B, C, D and E of this thesis is not available.


Thesis Location