Carolina CARES (College Assessment for Research and Education in Science)

The purpose of Carolina CARES is to examine mental health in college students and what factors contribute to how well students do during their college years. This research study has a particular focus on eating disorders and substance use.

Starting college is a major milestone associated with a lot of big 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. We want to understand what factors contribute to these outcomes for UNC students.

Carolina CARES invites all first-year UNC students (who are at least 18-years old) to participate during their first fall semester enrolled at UNC. Participation entails completing an online survey about personality, mood, anxiety, eating behaviors, substance use, and life experiences. The survey takes approximately 60-minutes to complete. From this information, we want to understand what factors contribute to emotional and mental health outcomes for UNC students. First-year students who participate, and who consent to be re-contacted, may 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 CARES is an opportunity for UNC students to get involved in the research process. Carolina CARES 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 CARES
  • Education: disseminating research findings from Carolina CARES to the UNC community
  • Community: use information obtained from Carolina CARES to improve the quality of life for UNC students

Carolina CARES launched 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 will 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 CARES or are a first-year student interested in participating, you can contact a member of the research team at unccares@unc.edu.