2018 CoNECD - The Collaborative Network for Engineering and Computing Diversity Conference

Characterizing Mental Health and Wellness in Students Across Engineering Disciplines

Presented at Undergraduate Track - Technical Session IV

Anecdotal evidence has long supported the idea that engineering students have lower levels of mental health and wellness than their peers. It is often posited that the large number of courses, low overall retention, difficult courses, and the abundance of intensive engineering projects lead to an unhealthy work-life balance and eventually lower levels of mental health for this population. To date, however, there has been no comprehensive study on the prevalence and types of mental health conditions that afflict engineering students, or any data on whether certain disciplines within engineering may see a greater prevalence of certain mental health conditions among students than other disciplines.

This paper presents the results of a one-year study performed at California Polytechnic State University to address the knowledge gap surrounding mental health across students in different engineering disciplines in higher education. For this study, the authors developed and administered a comprehensive mental health questionnaire to both undergraduate and graduate students across eleven different engineering disciplines. The instrument screens for likelihood of depression, anxiety, PTSD, drug abuse, alcohol abuse, and other major mental illnesses. An analysis of the data shows that while mental health and wellness issues are prevalent across all majors, specific disciplines appear to have very different mixes of conditions and issues affecting their students.

  1. Dr. Andrew Danowitz Orcid 16x16http://orcid.org/0000-0002-4842-2005 California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo [biography]
  2. Dr. Kacey Beddoes University of Massachusetts, Lowell [biography]
Download paper (817 KB)

Are you a researcher? Would you like to cite this paper? Visit the ASEE document repository at peer.asee.org for more tools and easy citations.

» Download paper

« View session

For those interested in:

  • Advocacy and Policy
  • Broadening Participation in Engineering and Engineering Technology