Mental Health Supports for Postsecondary Students: What Students Need and What Institutions Provide

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Rissanen, Anna
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This thematic literature review analysis indicates that postsecondary institutions can align their mental health services more effectively with student needs by gathering post secondary student feedback. For example, student feedback indicates that students need psychoeducation in coping mechanisms and peer-support groups in mental health topics in addition to access to counselling services to enhance mental wellbeing. Post secondary students need more psychoeducation, starting in high school, to prepare themselves for postsecondary mental health challenges. Also, lowering stigma and improving mental health attitudes on campus can lower barriers for seeking help. Students also need more trust in the quality of mental health services along with advertising the services and shortening wait times. Also, a new young adult psychopathology model was found that institutions are not aware of yet showing that students who have had Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) tend to have higher mental health symptomatology and experiences of discrimination leading to increased risk of poor academic success and poor mental health. The findings also indicate that postsecondary studies worsen student mental health, specifically with substance abuse, sleep problems, stress, anxiety, and depression. Students prefer asking for help from within their close circles, thus educators need more preparation, especially in trauma-informed approaches. Minoritized students struggle more, especially when they have experienced adversity, and they can benefit from targeted mental health peer support and services. Furthermore, institutions are not aware that students welcome more social activities, and other than direct mental health counselling to enhance well-being and social connections, such as organized peer groups and activities such exercise and animal-assisted wellness programs. And finally, as grit and self-determination enhance student well-being and academic success, there is a need for skill-development in these areas.
mental health , hiigher education students , postsecondary students , higher education , animal-assisted therapy , student well-being , trauma-informed practice , mental health support