Identifying mental health related help-seeking beliefs in undergraduate engineers

Sarah A. Wilson, Joseph H. Hammer, Courtney Janaye Wright, Ellen Usher

Research output: Contribution to journalConference articlepeer-review

Abstract

There has been an alarming increase in the prevalence of mental health concerns amongst undergraduate students. Engineering students experiencing mental health distress are less likely to seek professional help than are non-engineering students. Lack of treatment can result in the escalation of mental health symptoms among engineering students. This study, supported by an NSF Research Initiation in Engineering Formation grant, focused on characterizing engineering students' beliefs about seeking help for a mental health concern. Using the integrated behavioral model as a framework, 33 semi-structured qualitative interviews were conducted with engineering students from a wide range of majors, years of study, and social identity groups. Interviews were analyzed through deductive coding to identify key beliefs associated with help-seeking as defined by the integrated behavioral model. The beliefs identified include a desire among engineering students to fix their own problems, to avoid admitting imperfection, and fear of being seen by others when seeking help for a mental health concern. These results were used to create an engineering mental health help-seeking instrument containing items related to perceived outcomes/attributes, experiential (i.e., affective) beliefs, barriers/facilitators, and perceived norms associated with help seeking. This instrument is currently being refined through cognitive interviews, and pilot data will be collected to examine evidence of instrument reliability and validity. The finalized instrument will be used to identify those beliefs that are predictive of help-seeking intention and behavior. These beliefs are prime targets for future interventions designed to increase mental health help-seeking in the undergraduate engineering student population.

Original languageEnglish
JournalASEE Annual Conference and Exposition, Conference Proceedings
StatePublished - Aug 23 2022
Event129th ASEE Annual Conference and Exposition: Excellence Through Diversity, ASEE 2022 - Minneapolis, United States
Duration: Jun 26 2022Jun 29 2022

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
A grant from ht aNetiol ncSienaecoFution (#2024394) sndaupported this tus Tdhis ygn.rawtsa funded through theResearch Initiation in Engineering Formation program.

Funding Information:
A grant from the National Science Foundation (#2024394) supported this study. This grant was funded through the Research Initiation in Engineering Formation program.

Publisher Copyright:
© American Society for Engineering Education, 2022

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Engineering (all)

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