What role does resilience play in university students’ mental health service use?
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Background and Objectives: Globally, rates of individuals experiencing mental health disorders are increasing, with an estimated 450 million people affected with studies showing that about half of the Canadian population will have or have had a mental health illness by the age of 40. Many mental health disorders present earlier in life and it has been shown that early identification of mental health disorders, along with effective treatment would increase the possibility of positive outcomes immediately and in later life. With more university and college students presenting with mental health disorders of increasing severity, there is a need to investigate different means of dealing with mental health disorders. Resilience has been shown to promote good mental wellbeing in individuals however what is not known is what role it plays in the presentation or ability to manage some mental health disorders. This led to the study inquiry to understand the role played by resilience in university students’ mental health service use. Method: This study had a qualitative research design because of the fairly unknown nature of the research phenomenon. I purposively sampled nineteen participants from two sample frames: students who had used mental health services in the past 12 months and those who had not used the services. Face to face interviews were conducted using a semi structured interview guide. Interviews were audio recorded, transcribed and entered into the Nvivo qualitative data software. Study data were distilled into codes and thematically analysed into key themes to respond to the research objectives. Results: The findings identified certain features of resilience and how they might affect students’ use or non-use of campus mental health services: (1) students who are resilient as a result of group-focussed self-adjustment strategies were more likely to use campus mental health services while students who engaged in individualised self adjustment strategies were likely not to use mental health services; (2) students who are resilient as a result of early childhood adversity were more likely to use campus mental health services, while those students who experienced adversity during their late teenage years were most likely not to use campus mental health services; (3) students who are resilient from having had emotional support early in their life were more likely to use mental health services than those who had emotional support later in life; (4) students who become resilient as a result of trying to attain internal or pressures were more likely to use campus mental health services than those who had to face external pressures. Additionally, the study validated other studies that point to resilience developing from adversity. Conclusion: The findings of this study provided more information on the possible role of resilience on the use or non-use of campus mental health services by students. Its findings indicate that resilience is not a defining factor for whether or not university students use mental health services on campus. Rather resilience is a separate and singular variable that influences a student’s use of mental health service use based on their personal characteristics and their life course. Further investigations may include understanding how resilience fluctuates throughout the time spent in the university; using quantitative methods to investigate the extent to which resilience characteristics indicate use or non-use of mental health services by university students; and understanding if the availability of an older emotionally supportive person improved mental health and resilience irrespective of service use or not.
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Nnenna Arianzu Uma Ike (2019). What role does resilience play in university students’ mental health service use?. UWSpace. http://hdl.handle.net/10012/15201