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Title: Identifying common perceived stressors and stress-relief strategies among undergraduate engineering students
Mental health concerns have become a growing problem among collegiate engineering students. To date, there has been little research to understand the factors that influence student mental health within this population. Literature on engineering student mental health supports the idea that engineering students experience high levels of mental health distress, which often stems from stressors such as academic workload, maintaining a strong grade point average (GPA), and pressure from parents and/or professors. Of particular concern, distressed engineering students are less likely to seek professional help when compared to students in other majors. As a result, a comprehensive study was conducted on engineering mental health help-seeking behavior. Through secondary analysis of the data from that study, this work aims to identify common perceived stressors that may contribute to mental health distress, as well as perceived coping strategies that may be used instead of seeking professional mental health help. A diverse group of 33 engineering undergraduate students were a part of the comprehensive study on engineering mental health help-seeking behavior. For this study, qualitative data was analyzed to address two specific research questions: 1) What are the main sources of stress that engineers have experienced in their engineering training? and 2) What coping strategies have students developed as an alternative to seeking professional help? Several common perceived stressors were identified including an unsupportive and challenging engineering training environment, challenges in time management, and academic performance expectations. Perceived coping strategies identified include relationships with family, friends, and classmates and health and wellness activities such as exercise, mindfulness, and maintaining spiritual health. The results of this work will be helpful in recognizing ways to improve engineering education and increase student support.  more » « less
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ASEE annual conference exposition
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National Science Foundation
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    Engineering stakeholders must improve access to professional help for engineering students. Implementing changes to normalize help‐seeking behaviors, enhance personal agency, and facilitate engagement with mental health resources will create better conditions for engineers. Further research is necessary to understand how other beliefs (e.g., attitudes, perceived norms) inform the relationships between student mental health, professional help seeking, and engineering culture.

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