Sedden, Megan Olivia (2021) Academic stress, anxiety symptoms, and help-seeking behaviours across one academic year: the unique experience of the first pandemic lockdown. Masters thesis, University of Huddersfield.

Research indicates a long-standing issue of high levels of stress and comorbid mental health difficulties amongst the student population. However, this fails to take into account the complexity of an academic year and the associated fluctuations of stress and mental health difficulties. Furthermore, it is unclear how intentions to seek help translates to actual help-seeking behaviour, highlighted by the prevalence of stress and mental health difficulties. With the unique experience of COVID-19 occurring part-way through the academic year, it is important to ascertain its effects on student well-being, and subsequent help-seeking. This longitudinal, mixed methods study investigated stress and anxiety levels in relation to help-seeking behaviours, through an online survey. Full responses were provided by 127 students across three time points in October 2019, January, and April 2020. The results indicated that students experienced a significant increase in both stress and anxiety from time point two to time point three, as well as clear preference to indicate intentions for informal sources of support. Online interviews with nine students highlighted the impact of COVID-19 on study behaviours, and how help-seeking from support services at the University of Huddersfield had been affected due to the closure of campus. There is a requirement for improved mental health literacy amongst students in order to recognise when to access appropriate support, and for what situations. The findings are discussed in regard to implications for the University of Huddersfield, with clear proposed future research suggestions. These include the need for additional research exploring the relationship between help-seeking intentions, and actual help-seeking behaviour, as well as research continuing to assess stress and anxiety levels as lockdown measures are eased.

SEDDEN - THESIS.pdf - Accepted Version
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