Fika and the University of Birmingham bring app-based mental skills training to students

Emotional fitness app Fika has captured a mental skills training programme created by the University of Birmingham, turning it into app-based workouts aimed at students UK-wide.

The partnership will see the University of Birmingham’s MST4Life? (My Strengths Training For Life?) programme brought to life as a guest programme in the Fika app - and will feature the university’s own students as they learn to train their mental skills.

The MST4Life? programme was developed by sports psychologists and academics at the university, in collaboration with youth homelessness charity St Basils. Developed over six years, the programme draws on sports psychology to strengthen the resilience, confidence and coping skills of young people, and has already benefited hundreds of 16-to-24-year-olds.

Fika is designed for the UK’s 2.3 million university students, offering accessible, evidence-based ‘emotional workouts’ to boost students’ wellbeing, academic attainment and employability.

Like MST4Life’, Fika also draws on sports psychology, featuring content from Olympic athletes and British sports stars. Fika’s emotional workouts encourage students to build ‘emotional muscle’ across areas such as confidence, focus, motivation, positive thinking, stress management and connections with others.

Fika’s MST4Life? guest programme will feature video stories of students as they work through MST4Life? activities such as choosing their ‘Dream Team’ - a sports-inspired concept helping young people build their support network.

Dr Fran Longstaff, Head of Psychology at Fika, said: “There are clear similarities between the interpersonal MST4Life model, and Fika’s app-based model: both draw on sports psychology and fitness culture to make emotional wellbeing accessible; and both encourage young people to identify and build on their strengths and coping skills.

“We’re delighted to offer MST4Life an opportunity to mainstream its programme across a wider student community - and we’re particularly excited to capture MST4Life ideas like ‘Dream Team’ within Fika.’

Dr Jennifer Cumming, a Reader in Sport and Exercise Psychology at the University of Birmingham and co-creator of the MST4Life? programme, said: “We’re thrilled to be partnering with Fika on this project. Just as we’ve used MST4Life to strengthen and empower young people experiencing homelessness, we’re confident in its transformative potential for a whole generation of university students.

“We know from Fika’s own research that 77% of students struggle with the transition into university. We look forward to working with Fika to strengthen their resilience, confidence and coping skills - and to seeing how they engage with the MST4Life model.’

Fika launched last year and is already in use by thousands of students across the UK. The product of more than two years’ learning and development, the app has benefited from the input of seven psychologists, more than 100 academics and more than 2,000 students, as well as a team of researchers and product experts.

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