IDEAL Problem Solving Model



IDEAL Problem Solving Model

I – Identify the problem and possible opportunities for success

This involves identifying the essential elements of the problems and describing in detail the nature of the problem in the context of other problems. One of the most underappreciated aspects of successful problem solving is identifying problems. As such, this step entails identifying potentially solvable problems in our environment and identifying potentially problematic attitudes and beliefs that may hinder our personal success.

D – Define alternative goals and develop an understanding of the problem at hand

Once a problem has been identified, it is vital to define a variety of alternative goals. This step involves exploring the prominent impacts that discordant goals can have on learning and creative problem solving. As one pursues alternative goals, he or she will want to develop a better understanding of the problem at hand and modify the goals accordingly. It is imperative to note that goals are not strategies. While goals refer to what an individual wants to accomplish, strategies are the ways through which the person will accomplish the goals. Gaining a better understanding of the problem involves asking ourselves what are the causes of the problem.

E – Explore possible solutions or strategies-ideal Problem Solving Model

Successful problem solving involves exploring a vast array of strategies or solutions critical to solving problems. One needs to explore and describe various options for tackling the problem at hand, while listing their pros and cons so as to identify the best solution. Some of the critical questions that a person needs to ask in this step include:

  • What are some of the solutions?
  • Which is the best solution or strategy?
  • Is viable and safe?
  • How might people feel about it?
  • Is it fair?
  • Will it work?

A – Anticipate and act on a strategy or solution-ideal Problem Solving Model

Solving a problem effectively or successfully involves anticipating the consequences of using a specific strategy or solution so that an individual can reduce the likelihood of failure. Despite possible barricades in applying the best solution or strategy, an individual must act on the solution or solution and do so in a manner that registers success instead of failure. A detailed description of what the person did to solve the problem is also required in this step.

L – Look back and learn

Once an individual has acted on his or her best solution or strategy, he or she must look back at the effects of the attempts to solve the problem and learn from the mistakes. If the solution or strategy is not working, the person can go through the process. Moreover, the individual can learn the mistakes and avoid them in future so as to make the strategy more successful in solving problems.

The Problem

Depression in College

Depression is an important and serious issue on various college campuses. College students are susceptible to depression due to potential factors such as stress with work, school or finance, as well as, feeling isolated after moving away from family and friends. Depression can also be caused by other physical, mental, academic and social issues that contribute to emotional lows in students and raise their stress levels.

Solving Depression in College Using the IDEAL Model-ideal Problem Solving Model

I – Identify the problem and possible opportunities for success

College students should know that depression is different from occasionally feeling stressed or sad (Hughes, 2017, N. p). While depression is a serious medical illness, it is treatable. Thus, no student should suffer in silence. Symptoms of depression among students include: lack of pleasure or interest in activities that one used to enjoy, difficulty in sleeping, feeling worthless, difficulty concentrating, feeling irritable, feeling suicidal, fluctuations in weight, low energy, feeling guilty, difficulty in making decisions, feeling restless and a depressed mood where one feels empty, sad and hopeless.

The symptoms of depression can cause a person to find it difficult to function or perform day to day activities and as the symptoms become increasingly unmanageable by the student, he or she may begin to feel suicidal. Once a student begins to feel suicidal, the problem needs to be addressed immediately. Data provided by the Center for Disease and Prevention states that suicide is the second leading cause of death for people aged between fifteen and thirty-four years of which depression is one of the leading cause of people to commit suicide (Hughes, 2017, N. p). Thus, depression is a problem, but what can be done about it?

D – Define alternative goals and develop an understanding of the problem at hand

The goals for solving this problem include:

  1. Show students that being depressed is not a wrong

As a result of distrust of mentally ill people and stigmas associated with being diagnosed with attempted suicide or mental illness, a large portion of students with depression do not seek help. This makes it difficult for the problem of depression to be emphasized in colleges. This goal aims to create an environment in college whereby students with depression are not stigmatized or made to feel like being depressed is equivalent to insanity or dysfunction.

  1. Provide various resources to help students with depression surmount the mental illness

Creating avenues where students with depression can seek help is a critical goal to solving the problem of depression in colleges. By having counselors, doctors and support groups where students can seek professional assistance, students with depression can get the help they need to overcome the mental illness. Moreover, encouraging social interaction between students can help avoid isolation that results in depression among some students.

  1. Follow up initiatives-ideal Problem Solving Model

Individuals who commit suicide are thirty-seven times more likely to succeed the second time (Hayes, 2014, N. p). In the same context, suicidal students with depression who do not succeed in committing suicide the first time may be successful in the second attempt if they fall back into depression after treatment. Thus, it is vital to have a strategy or solution that does follow-up on students with depression to ensure that they do not fall back into depression after treatment.

E – Explore possible solutions or strategies

Possible solutions or strategies include:

  • Psychotherapy – Licensed and trained mental health problems can provide support in helping students in college find relief from the symptoms of depression. Through psychotherapy, students can identify what issues are contributing to their symptoms of depression and find the best solution to address these issues and prevent future episodes of depression.
  • Exercise – Engaging in regular exercise has numerous physical health benefits such as lowering blood pressure, improving strength, strengthening the heart and reducing body fat. Exercise also has mental health benefits such as reduced anxiety, stress and depression.
  • Strengthening Social Connections – Putting energy and time into meeting novel people and developing friendships is vital to the mental health of students in college. This is because social support minimizes the impacts of stress on depression for college students. Since stress can aggravate the symptoms of depression, it is important to know that social connections can reduce impacts of stress.
  • Adequate Sleep – Sleep is critical to students’ mental health and learning how to prioritize and get adequate sleep is vital to reducing stress and consequently depression.
  • Improved Nutrition – It can be difficult for students in college to find time to eat or shop for, prepare and cook healthy foods. Nutritional deficiencies can contribute to symptoms of depression (Hughes, 2017, N. p). Thus, getting the necessary proteins, vitamins, carbohydrates and essential fatty acids through a healthy diet can help students overcome depression.
  • Medical Options – Students experiencing symptoms of depression can explore medical options by getting prescribed medication from doctors, nurse practitioners and psychiatrists to treat depression.

The best solution is psychotherapy

A – Anticipate and act on a strategy or solution-ideal Problem Solving Model

The chosen solution to deal with the problem of depression in colleges is psychotherapy. Colleges should provide counseling centers for students experiencing symptoms of depression to access at little or no cost. Therapists on college campuses often have the ability to connect with students and provide them with mental support they need. This solution is ideal and effective in treating depression among students since the therapists can analyze the specific symptoms of depression experienced by students and provide the appropriate and salient solutions or treatment mechanisms to their specific cases. For instance, for mild cases of depression, the therapist can recommend regular therapy, getting adequate sleep, strengthening social connections, improved nutrition and exercise. However, for more severe forms of depression where therapy is not sufficient, the therapist can suggest medications that are effective in treating depression. Psychotherapy is a safe and fair solution to the problem of depression in colleges that takes students with depression through a friendly and step by step process to surmount the mental illness without subjecting students to stigmatization.

L – Look back and learn

Psychotherapy has been proven to be an effective solution with positive results or outcomes when utilized to help students in college surmount depression. Moreover, it helps students from committing suicide due to depression.













Works Cited

Hayes, T. (2014). Depression on Campus: What’s the Solution?. Uloop. Retrieved 7 February 2018, from

Hughes, M. (2017). 10 Great Tips For Dealing With Depression In College – Best Counseling Degrees. Best Counseling Degrees. Retrieved 7 February 2018, from