July 26, 2021
July 26, 2021
July 19, 2022
Equity and Culture & Social Justice in Education
National data show that engineering students with mental health problems are significantly less likely to seek professional help than their peers (Eisenberg et al., 2019). While treatment gaps exist for cisgender men, persons of color, and first-generation students in general, disparities are further pronounced in engineering. Interventions targeted at reshaping engineering identity to be supportive of mental health related help-seeking could increase success and retention of at-risk students. This qualitative research study aims to identify undergraduate engineering students’ beliefs about seeking help related to mental health distress. Students from across all engineering majors and years of study were invited to participate in a pre-screening survey that included questions related to prior mental health service utilization and psychological distress. Over 200 students completed the pre-screening survey. From these respondents, purposeful stratified sampling was implemented to solicit a diverse set of interviewees across major, year of study, gender, race/ethnicity, generational status as a college student, and nationality. The final sample invited to participate in the qualitative study included 30 engineering students with and without prior experience with mental health related help-seeking. Through May of 2021, the research team will conduct hour-long semi-structured interviews with 30 participants to understand the key beliefs that engineering students hold about seeking help as it relates to mental health. Interview questions will be grounded in the Integrated Behavioral Model, which recognizes six categories of beliefs that influence behavior. Additionally, students will be asked questions related to their engineering identity and how this has influenced their help-seeking beliefs and behavior. All interviews will be audio recorded, transcribed, and coded. Researchers will use thematic analysis to allow for comprehensive identification of emergent themes related to engineering students’ mental health help-seeking beliefs. Data analysis will be ongoing throughout the data collection process to allow for refinement of the interview protocol. The researchers will use the interview data to create a comprehensive list of beliefs related to engineering students’ decisions to seek help for a mental health concern. The team will use the information to develop a survey instrument that can be used to assess help-seeking beliefs among a broader sample of engineering students. Large-scale implementation of this instrument will allow for identification of beliefs that predict help-seeking behavior. These findings will then be used to develop targeted interventions to improve mental health help-seeking in undergraduate engineering students. References Eisenberg, D., Lipson, S. K., Ceglarek, P., Phillips, M., Zhou, S., Morigney, J., Talaski, A., & Steverson, S. (2019). The Healthy Minds Study: 2018-2019 Data Report.
Wright, C. J., & Hargis, L. E., & Usher, E. L., & Hammer, J. H., & Wilson, S. A., & Miller, M. E. (2021, July), Identifying Engineering Students’ Beliefs About Seeking Help for Mental Health Concerns Paper presented at 2021 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access, Virtual Conference. https://peer.asee.org/37269
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