Evaluating a local mental health program: You could work with a community mental health organization or clinic to help evaluate the effectiveness of one of their programs. This would involve developing metrics to measure outcomes, collecting and analyzing data, and presenting recommendations. For example, you may help evaluate a supportive housing program for individuals with serious mental illnesses by looking at things like reduced hospitalizations, stability in housing, and improvements in mental health symptoms.
Launching a mental health awareness campaign: You could design and implement a campaign to raise awareness about a specific mental health issue on campus or in the local community. Some ideas could include bringing speakers and holding events for things like reducing stigma around depression/anxiety, promoting suicide prevention strategies, educating about trauma and PTSD, etc. You would develop educational materials, plan events, track participation, and assess if the campaign moved public perceptions or increased help-seeking behaviors.
Conducting a needs assessment for campus counseling services: You could partner with your university counseling center to conduct surveys, focus groups, and analysis to identify unmet mental health needs of the student population. Some topics could involve looking at barriers to care, awareness of available services, dealing with cultural/identity issues, supporting high-risk groups, etc. The goal would be presenting recommendations to help counseling services better meet student needs.
Researching effectiveness of therapy approaches: You could do an in-depth literature review and analyze existing studies on the effectiveness of specific therapy approaches (e.g. CBT, DBT, ACT) for certain conditions or client populations. Alternatively, you may want to conduct interviews with clinicians to gain qualitative perspectives. The goal would be discussing which approaches seem most evidence-based and identifying gaps in current research.
Assessing well-being of marginalized groups: You could explore mental health disparities by assessing and comparing well-being factors and experiences accessing care among marginalized groups on campus. Examples could involve looking at LGBTQ students, students of color, international students, or students with disabilities. Surveys, focus groups, and analysis could provide insights and recommendations for improving campus supports tailored to these populations.
Researching risk/protective factors for student athletes: You may want to partner with an athletic department to examine mental health outcomes of student-athletes compared to non-athletes. The goal would be identifying factors that put athletes at higher risk for things like substance use, disordered eating, or depression/anxiety compared to their non-athletic peers. This line of research could help improve screening processes and mental health supports for teams.
Studying link between academics and wellness: You could analyze existing literature and possibly gather survey data from students to explore connections between academic stress/pressure, mental health, health behaviors, and help-seeking. The goal would be providing recommendations to faculty/administrators about evidence-based strategies to promote student wellness and resilience while maintaining high academic standards.
Developing solutions for campus mental health access issues: You may want to assess barriers students currently face accessing counseling services on campus like wait times, availability of appointments/services, awareness of resources. This could involve surveys, mapping service utilization trends, exploring telehealth options. The goals would involve presenting specific, actionable solutions to address any identified access problems and improve help-seeking on campus.
Those represent some broad capstone project ideas in the field of psychology focused on applied research, program evaluation, community partnerships, as well as exploring specific mental health issues. The key is to choose a meaningful topic you are passionate about and one that can create tangible benefits or insights for your target partners or population of interest. Let me know if any specific ideas require more details or discussion. I hope these give you a starting point as you brainstorm potential topics.