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Mental Health and Well-being in the Transition to University

September 18, 2019 at 12:00 PM to 1:00 PM

Location:608 Robertson Hall
Audience:Anyone, Faculty, Staff, Staff and Faculty
Key Contact:Samantha Munro
Contact Phone:Ext. 2042

Mental health and well-being in the transition to university: Early results from the Carleton Transitions Study

The first year of university is developmentally significant because of a multiple, simultaneously-occurring transitions. Students navigate a broader range of academic choices and expectations compared to high school; they form new social groups and leave others behind; many move away from home for the first time. Previously well-functioning, high-achieving students sometimes struggle to keep up with new academic, social, familial, and financial demands. My colleagues and I have shown in prior studies that between 38% and 50% of students scored at or above clinical screening thresholds for depression, with rates peaking in both samples toward the end of the first semester of the first year of university. Recent findings from the National College Health Assessment of Canadian undergraduates support these trends: In the past year, most students felt overwhelming anxiety (63.4), and many felt that anxiety (30.8%) or depression (19.3) had negatively impacted their academic performance. In this presentation, I will highlight some early results from phase 1 of the Carleton Transitions Study, a survey study aimed at understanding success and well-being during the transition to university. Participants were 460 first-year Carleton undergraduates (age 19 and under; 49% female; 47% White) recruited during Fall Orientation week in 2018. Most students fare well during the transition to university, but we also show that important socioeconomic and family environment disadvantages place students at risk during the earliest weeks of their university careers, and these disadvantages confer risk throughout the first semester.

About the Researcher

Dr. Andrea Howard is an Associate Professor with the Department of Psychology. Her research primarily examines mental health (depression, anxiety) and substance use (alcohol, marijuana, tobacco, and other drugs) in adolescence and the transition to adulthood.

Mental Health Speaker Series

This session is part of the Healthy Workplace Mental Health Speaker Series 2019/2020. Find out more.


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