Yale shares its most popular course online to promote happiness while in isolation

By: Daisy Cole

More than a million people have joined free online happiness classes in a bid to beat stress and anxiety during the global coronavirus lockdown

Yale psychology lecturer Professor Laurie Santos is sharing the lecture series she teaches at the US Ivy League university in Connecticut to help stave off mental health issues caused by social isolation.

With COVID-19 forcing offices and schools to close their doors, Professor Santos said her “Science of Well-being” lectures keep the mind moving and the heart happy. 

And she believes that practicing what she preaches has helped with her own mental health. 

“College students are much more overwhelmed, much more stressed, much more anxious, and much more depressed than they’ve ever been. 

“I think we really have a crisis writ large at colleges in how students are doing in terms of self-care and mental health. Sadly, I don’t think it’s just in colleges.”

Participants who join the online lectures are taught about the psychology and practice of happiness while learning how to create and track positive habits.

Simply knowing about something is not going to fix the problem, said Prof Santos. 

“Participants must put what they learn into practice to create personal change. 

“Many people are searching for evidence-based interventions they can use to protect their mental health during this challenging time.

“Everyone knows how to protect their physical health— washing hands and keeping six feet apart— but I think people want similarly actionable tips to improve their mood and well-being.”

The course, being offered via the Coursera website, includes ten weeks of lectures and is the most popular among Yale students.

“This crisis is already increasing everyone’s anxiety, stress and uncertainty. 

“I think the social and economic impacts as well as the grief at loss of life will be tremendous. That said, I’m also hopeful that people can take action to improve their mental health even in a time as challenging as this.”