STLHE 2015 has ended
Achieving Harmony: Tuning into Practice
Wednesday, June 17 • 12:00pm - 12:30pm
CON02.11 - Exploring the impact of a fall break policy on student mental health outcomes

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Increasing attention is being paid to the mental health of university and college students as they report higher levels of stress and anxiety than that of the general population (Stallman, 2010). As mental illness commonly develops between the ages of fifteen and twenty-four (Eisenberg, Golberstein, Gollust, & Hefner, 2007) post-secondary students are at particular risk. In fact, the higher stress levels associated with being a first year university student alone lead to higher dropout rates than either anxiety or depression (Tamin, 2013). Many universities across Ontario are implementing a policy for a fall break in hopes of alleviating students’ stress and anxiety in order to improve mental health, heighten retention, and increase academic productivity. The objective of this study is to assess the impact of an educational policy change to institute a fall break on student stress and retention. A mixed methods methodology is used to collect self-reported qualitative and quantitative indicators of stress and academic achievement along with objective measures of academic achievement and retention using a three-year longitudinal cross-sectional survey design. The Fall Break did decrease students overall stress. Students agree the break was beneficial, that workload did not increase as a result of the break (before or after) and that stress did not increase as a result. The group reporting the greatest benefit was first year students. This research provides comprehensive evidence regarding the utility of a Fall Break to reduce stress and increase retention in order to inform effective education policies in this respect.

Eisenberg, D., Gollust, S. E., Golberstein, E., & Hefner, J. L (2007). Prevalence and correlates of depression, anxiety, and suicidality among university students. American Journal of Orthopsychiatry, 77(4), 534-542.

Stallman, H. M. (2010). Psychological distress in university students: A comparison with general population data. Australian Psychologist, 45(4), 249-257.

Tamin, S. K. (2013). Relevance of mental health issues in university student dropouts. Occupational Medicine, 63(6), 410-414.

Wednesday June 17, 2015 12:00pm - 12:30pm
Cypress 1 Room

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