Recognize and Refer: Assessing the Impact of an Active Bystander  Intervention on Help-Seeking Behaviors

Ivy McKinley, Celine Garcia, Karla Moreira, Angel Novo, Dr. Kimmy Kee-Rose, and Dr. Kirsten Olson


Recent studies have demonstrated the negative impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on higher education. Specifically, the levels of stress, anxiety, and depression have significantly increased among college students during the COVID-19 outbreak. There is urgent need to develop interventions and preventive strategies to address the psychological distress of college students. This ongoing study examines the effects of a peer-to-peer workshop, “Recognize and Refer,” based on the active bystander intervention model designed to help students learn how to recognize and respond to signs of distress in themselves and/or their peers. Twenty-five students at a California public university have been recruited and assessed from February to March 2022. Participants were randomly assigned to engage in a “Recognize and Refer” or a control workshop on time management skills presented online for 60 minutes. Measures of health-seeking behaviors includes the Inventory of Attitudes Toward Seeking Mental Health Services and the Gatekeeper Behavior Scale. These measures were administered before the workshop and 2 weeks later. Complete data analyses will be available in April 2022. We hypothesize that participants in the “Recognize and Refer” workshop will be better able to recognize signs of psychological distress and refer themselves and/or their peers to mental health services compared to their counterparts in the control workshop. They will also report less stigma regarding accessing mental health services and resources compared to the control sample. Findings from this study may potentially increase our understanding of the role of peer-to-peer intervention strategies in reducing psychological distress in college students.


Session 1 – 1:30p.m. – 2:45p.m.

Room C – Sierra 2411