Engineering Students Less Likely to Seek Mental Health Help Than Their Cohorts, Research Shows

As we head into the new year, it is important to keep students’ mental health in mind. 

Computer Engineering Professor Andrew Danowitz developed a research brief on the mental health of engineering students. His research shows there are “significant unmet mental health needs among engineering students nationwide, which contributes to attrition from engineering programs.” 

Although there is no significant evidence showing that engineering students are more prone to mental health issues than non-engineering students, Danowitz’s research concludes that “they are less likely to get help and may face unique barriers and reluctance to seeking mental health help.” 

Some of this reluctance may come from how students expect faculty members to respond. Danowitz concluded that “students experience a culture of silence and stigmas around mental health that is in part created by faculty who are not supportive or empathetic and by an ethos that engineering students are supposed to be smarter and tougher than students in other majors.” 

Danowitz proposes recommendations to offer resources for students struggling with their mental health. 

One way to help is to “create a culture of empathetic decision-making that supports rather than stigmatizes or trivializes mental health,” according to Danowitz. 

Because there is often misleading information on how long it takes to complete a degree program, Danowitz suggests educators to “be up front with parents and students about programs that take most students five years to complete.” He also suggests hiring a counselor specific to the College of Engineering. 

Danowitz suggests implementing a plan so that faculty members “know what to do if they are worried about a student.” Faculty members should also offer informal accommodations so that students’ needs in the classroom are met. 

You can access the full report below.