IEEE Transactions on Education
Contribution: Screening rates for engineering students for several major and moderate mental health issues are reported, including unspecified psychological distress as captured by the Kessler 6 screening instrument; screening rates for depressive, anxiety, and eating disorders as measured by the patient health questionnaire (PHQ); and screening rates for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) as measured by the primary care post-traumatic stress disorder (PC-PTSD) instrument. This work also explores how mental health issues affect different student demographic groups within engineering. Background: Anecdotal evidence has long suggested that stress and certain mental health issues are particularly acute in the field of Engineering, and some recent research has shown elevated rates of mental health issues at different institutions around the country. This article presents the results of a previously validated mental health survey conducted with first- and second-year students at eight universities. Intended Outcomes: A better understanding of which mental health issues affect engineering students as a population, and an understanding of what mental health disparities exist among different demographics in engineering. This information is intended to allow engineering programs, student groups, and other stakeholders to better target mental health resources for all engineering students. Application Design: This work combines several widely used population-scale mental health diagnostic tools into a single comprehensive survey instrument that was deployed to first- and second-year engineering students at eight universities nationwide. Findings: This study finds that 50% of respondents screening positive for a major mental health condition - including depression, anxiety, PTSD, an eating disorder, or major psychological distress - while only 16% of respondents report having ever received a diagnosis for a mental health condition. Women respondents are more likely to screen positive for anxiety disorders (4.4× for panic disorder, 2.2× for other anxiety, and 1.9× for PTSD) and major depressive disorder (2.3×) relative to men. Respondents reporting physical disabilities have significantly higher likelihoods of suffering from mental health issues than peers with no reported physical disabilities and are 2.9× more likely to screen positive for PTSD. Identifying as Hispanic was also a significant predictor of major depressive disorder (3.2×more likely) and PTSD (2.5× more likely).
National Science Foundation
Accessibility, disability, equity, first and second year, inclusion, mental health, wellness
Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
Andrew Danowitz and Kacey Beddoes. "Mental Health in Engineering Education: Identifying Population and Intersectional Variation" IEEE Transactions on Education (2022): 257-266. https://doi.org/10.1109/TE.2022.3182626