College Students' Understanding and Discussion of Mental Health Issues
Ekl, Emily. “College Students' Understanding and Discussion of Mental Health Issues”. MA, Boston College, 2017. http://hdl.handle.net/2345/bc-ir:107693.
With the decline in college students’ overall mental health over the past several decades, social scientists and policymakers have sought to understand what has led to this increase in mental illness and what resources are most beneficial for students’ coping. This paper uses content analysis of student-run newspapers to investigate how students understand mental health and the resources available to them. By using a sample of four universities in Massachusetts with distinct characteristics, I examine how the rhetoric and content of articles related to mental health changed over time and varied across place. The most prominent changes common among universities over time appear to be a stronger and more apparent focus on mental health on campuses, an increased awareness of resources by students as well as a more diverse set of health resources available to them, and a more opinionated stance and call to administrators to facilitate change. Differences of understanding and context were apparent between universities as well and are linked to specific events and tragedies, campus culture, and prevalent organizations and groups. The topics most discussed at each university suggests the differences in how students should be treated and what resources will be most effective at combating different types of mental illness. The findings from this study suggest that universities are still struggling to keep up with the heightened demands of student mental health issues and that each campus’ unique characteristics must be taken into account when reforming health policy.