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Introduction: Mental health concerns in post-secondary institutions continues to rise, and may impact academic performance along with feelings of hopelessness and suicidal ideation. The relationship may be impacted by the balance between protective factors (social support, sense of belonging) and stressors (financial burden, academic difficulties). The National College Health Assessment (NCHA) surveys student physical and mental health. We aimed to examine through NCHA data the impact of mental health on academic performance among University of Alberta (U of A) undergraduate, graduate and professional students.
Hypothesis: Post-secondary students with mental health concerns may have lower likelihood of achieving academic goals compared to those without mental health concerns.
Methods: The NCHA survey was distributed electronically through random sampling to 5000 students at the U of A. Demographic variables including age, gender, year of study and measures of mental wellness were examined in conjunction with academic performance. Exclusions to the study included distance learning and exchange students. Univariate analysis and multivariate regression were completed using Stata.
Results: 19.3% (965 students) participated in the NCHA survey. 622 females, 325 males and 18 non-binary were included in the survey. 730 undergraduate and 225 graduate students participated. Univariate analysis and multivariate regression identified significant associations (p<0.01) for the perceived academic impact of depression, anxiety and eating disorders and student’s demographic, emotional, and self-care characteristics.
Conclusion: This evidence has provided guidance to design targeted interventions and strategies at the University of Alberta such as ACCESS Open minds, satellite psychologist model and increased prevention and community support programming.