CEED Investigators Launch Third Year of College Health Study

Dr. Jessica Baker, Ph.D.

September 3, 2019

Drs. Jessica Baker and Melissa Munn-Chernoff, faculty members at CEED, recently launched the third year of their new research study, Carolina C.A.R.E.S. (College Assessment for Research and Education in Science), aimed at understanding mental health in college students. Carolina C.A.R.E.S. recruited its first cohorts of first-year students in Fall 2017 and Fall 2018, and this launch in Fall 2019 will represent the third cohort.

The purpose of Carolina C.A.R.E.S. is to examine mental health in college students and what factors contribute to how well students do during their college years. Starting college is a major milestone associated with a lot of major life transitions. For many students, this is an exciting time, filled with new opportunities. However, the college years are harder for some students. For some individuals, this period can be a high-risk time for the development of problems associated with emotional and mental health. For the year three launch, we are particularly interested in the association between food availability in the home and mental health outcomes. Carolina C.A.R.E.S. invites all first-year UNC students to participate (UNC students who are at least 18-years old). Participation entails completing an online survey about personality, mood, anxiety, eating behaviors and food availability, substance use, and other life experiences. From this information, we want to understand what factors contribute to emotional and mental health outcomes for UNC students. First-year students who participate will be asked to complete additional surveys so that we may also understand how emotional and mental health changes over the course of college.

Additionally, research is an important part of all universities, and at UNC in particular, Carolina C.A.R.E.S. is an opportunity for UNC students to get involved in the research process. Carolina C.A.R.E.S. has four main themes/aims: research, training, education, and community.

  • Research: identify risk factors for emotional and mental health challenges during the transition to college
  • Training: provide UNC students with research volunteer and research internship opportunities, such as completing an independent research project with Carolina C.A.R.E.S.
  • Education: disseminating research findings from Carolina C.A.R.E.S. to the UNC community
  • Community: use information obtained from Carolina C.A.R.E.S. to improve the quality of life for UNC students

Carolina C.A.R.E.S. first launched in Fall 2017, so we are in the beginning stages of the research study. Therefore, we are currently focused on building our research and training aims. As we grow, we will be able to begin building on education and community.

If you have been contacted to participate, please note that as with any research study, participation is completely voluntary. You do not have to complete the survey if you do not want to. All information collected in the survey will be kept confidential and anonymous. We also will not share any individual student’s information with parents, the university, or any other university affiliates. If you have questions about Carolina C.A.R.E.S., you can contact a member of the research team at unccares@unc.edu.