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Conference papers

Psychological distress and help seeking among higher education students

Abstract : Background: Higher education students evidence high levels of psychological distress (PD), which can adversely impact academic performance, retention, mental health and lifestyle. This mixed method study aimed to examine PD, sources of PD and students help seeking behaviours. Methods: Undergraduate nursing/midwifery and teacher education students at an Irish university (n=1112) completed a survey comprising the General Health Questionnaire (GHQ) to measure self reported PD and the Lifestyle Behaviour Questionnaire to determine sources of distress, lifestyle and demographic indicators. Individual interviews (n=59) explored student experiences of PD and their help seeking behaviours. Results: Forty two per cent of respondents exceeded the GHQ threshold - 5, which signifies risk of mental or physical health problems. Students reported academic, financial and psychosocial stressors. Regression analysis identified that demographic, programmatic and lifestyle variables predicted GHQ scores. Despite the elevated PD students were reluctant users of support services. Decisions to seek help were complex and grouped under four themes: reluctance to admit vulnerability; stigma; lack of awareness\understanding and prior experience of accessing support. Conclusion: The extent of PD among this population is a concern. Education providers must be vigilant for PD and provide effective interventions, cognisant of the impact of stigma on help seeking.
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Contributor : Julie Pironom <>
Submitted on : Thursday, June 16, 2016 - 2:44:09 PM
Last modification on : Friday, June 14, 2019 - 1:31:15 AM


  • HAL Id : hal-01332778, version 1



Christine Deasy, Barry Coughlan, Didier Jourdan, Julie Pironom, Patricia Mannix Mcnamara. Psychological distress and help seeking among higher education students. SPHeRE network 2nd Annual Conference: Population health and health services research in Ireland: current trends and future directions, Feb 2016, Dublin, Ireland. ⟨hal-01332778⟩



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