Distinguishing the Impacts of the COVID‑19 Pandemic on Canadian Post-Secondary Student Mental Health

Barker, Erin T | $100,632

Quebec Concordia University 2021 CIHR Operating Grant

There is a need to assess the impacts of changes and disruptions to support services and programming for Canadian youth pursuing post-secondary education during the COVID‑19 pandemic. Canadian youth have been enrolling in post-secondary education programs, including university programs, at increasing rates. Before the pandemic hit, many university students reported high levels of subjective psychological distress. The COVID‑19 pandemic exacerbated this already-present risk for distress and mental health problems for post-secondary students. COVID‑19 restrictions transformed the delivery of post-secondary education last year. Academic environments were characterized by online delivery of courses, remote learning, and altered and limited access to campus services. The proposed research leverages two ongoing large-scale projects to 1) enhance understanding of the impacts of COVID‑19 on post-secondary student mental health; 2) describe university student service use patterns within the altered service delivery context that characterized the 2020/2021 academic year; and 3) identify groups of students who were particularly vulnerable to the impacts of COVID‑19 on mental health. The results of the proposed research will be ready for mobilization in time for the 2022/2023 academic year, providing critical information to programming and service providers to develop and direct targeted supports for mental health for those students particularly negatively impacted by COVID‑19 disruptions.

With funding from the Government of Canada

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