Faculty Experiences with Undergraduate Engineering Student Mental Health

Sarah Wilson, Joseph Hammer, Ellen L. Usher

Research output: Contribution to journalConference articlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


This research paper explores engineering faculty experiences related to undergraduate student mental health. The prevalence of mental health problems on college campuses is of increasing concern. While this concern is not limited to engineering students, a national study of college students indicated that engineering students are significantly less likely to seek help for a mental health concern than are college students pursuing other majors. Faculty often become aware of undergraduate students' mental health concerns through teaching and advising. The purpose of this study was to better understand faculty experiences with and perceptions of undergraduate engineering students' mental health. A survey was sent to faculty specializing in diverse engineering disciplines at private and public institutions. Of the 106 faculty who responded, 38 were non-tenure track, 17 were tenure track, and 47 were tenured. Five respondents were administrators. Participants reported a range of experience (> 1 year to over 20 years) and student interaction (teaching less than 30 to over 200 students per year) in their roles. Of the 106 respondents, a majority had experienced a discussion with at least one student about anxiety (87%), difficulty coping with stress (81%), depression (75%), discrimination (53%), and/or a neurodevelopmental/intellectual disability (53%). In addition, 21% of faculty had discussed suicidal thoughts and/or behaviors with a student. Faculty felt most confident in their ability to talk to students about difficulty coping with stress, discrimination, and anxiety; they felt least confident in their ability to talk to students about eating disorders, trauma, substance abuse, and suicidal thoughts and/or behaviors. Sixty-seven percent of faculty felt there was an increase in the prevalence of mental health disorders across their career, with 47% believing there was an increase in the severity. Surprisingly, 31% of faculty had never received training related to student mental health. The results of this study highlight faculty experiences with undergraduate student mental health and could guide the development of targeted training to prepare engineering faculty for interacting with students with mental health concerns.

Original languageEnglish
JournalASEE Annual Conference and Exposition, Conference Proceedings
StatePublished - Jul 26 2021
Event2021 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference, ASEE 2021 - Virtual, Online
Duration: Jul 26 2021Jul 29 2021

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© American Society for Engineering Education, 2021

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Engineering (all)


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