University of Twente Student Theses


A Qualitative Study on UT Students’ Conceptualization of Mental Health: Do Psychology and Science/Engineering Students Differ?

Grashof, T.G. (2021) A Qualitative Study on UT Students’ Conceptualization of Mental Health: Do Psychology and Science/Engineering Students Differ?

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Abstract:Aim Mental Health is an abstract term which can be defined in different ways. Whether someone considers themselves ‘mentally healthy’ is a subjective matter. Students are a group in society among which mental health issues are especially prevalent. Studies have shown that up to 66% of students experience “overwhelming anxiety”, and 60% “tremendous levels of stress.” Of these students, only 25% received professional care for their problems. It could be that students do not consider such complaints to be part of their mental health. The aim of this study therefore is to get insight in the students’ views of the components of mental health. Additionally it is looked into whether Psychology students differ in their conceptualization from students in a technical major. Method In this exploratory study, semi-structured interviews have been conducted among 20 university students in the Netherlands, concerning their conceptualization of Mental Health. Two researchers both conducted 10 interviews in their native tongue, namely German and Dutch. These interviews were transcribed and translated into English. These were then coded, and a coding scheme was developed. This coding scheme was used by 2 other independent researchers, to check reliability. Krippendorff’s c-Alpha-binary analyses resulted in reliability scores of .975 and .755. Results The concept of good mental health was generally described as a stable, happy state without too many complaints. Complaints were mostly defined as being in a persistently bad mood or large amounts of stress. Psychology students in particular held an accepting attitude towards their complaints, as opposed to the technical students. Psychology students in particular described the ability to deal with complaints as more important than the absence of complaints themselves. Anxiety was a topic that was largely considered not to be a part of mental health by all of the students. Conclusion Students tend to describe mental health more as a state of happiness, instead of putting a focus on complaints. They describe the importance of being resilient and dealing with the setbacks and stress that stem from daily life. Psychology students in particular focus on the ability to stay happy in the long run, whereas technology students tend to focus on being in a general state of happiness. Since students do not regard their complaints as part of their mental health, they might be less likely to seek out professional help.
Item Type:Essay (Bachelor)
Faculty:BMS: Behavioural, Management and Social Sciences
Subject:77 psychology
Programme:Psychology BSc (56604)
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