Nowadays, a number of students face certain difficulties and concerns about their education. Still, not all of them are ready to ask for help and clarify true reasons for their difficulties. Besides, not many students want to accept the fact that their mental health and mental well-being are closely connected to their behavior, future grades, and the possibilities to use their knowledge in practice. In their article, Laidlaw et al. (2015) find it necessary to explore undergraduate students’ understanding of such concepts as mental health and mental well-being and investigate the situations when students find it necessary to ask for help in order to solve their mental challenges.
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The authors underline two key arguments for developing the study. First, it is necessary to comprehend that higher education is a time when a number of transitions and challenges occur in students’ lives (Laidlaw et al. 2015). The authors explain that the ages from 15 to 24 introduce the period when students would like to develop new help-seeking strategies and find the answers to their psychological, biological, and mental challenges. Second, students should have a good portion of understanding of such terms as mental health and mental well-being challenges in order to know when to ask for help and whom to address for help. Though many students report high levels of distress, their level of knowledge remains to be low in the chosen field.
Moreover, to strengthen their project, the authors rely on the statistical data and introduce the numbers taken from such credible sources as the Higher Education Statistics Agency (2013), the National Centre for Education Statistics (2013), and the Royal College of Psychiatrists (2011). Undergraduate students introduce a considerable part of the population. If they have some mental challenges and concerns, they have to know how to solve them in order to work and study effectively. Besides, Laidlaw et al. (2015) suggest paying attention to the definitions of such concepts as mental health and mental well-being and proving the existing differentiation between them. They use the article by Suldo and Shaffer (2008) as evidence to prove this difference and the necessity to improve students’ understandings of the chosen concepts.
In addition to the main arguments introduced by the authors, it is also important to clarify what students know about mental health and mental well-being and if it is possible to improve their knowledge. Mental health and well-being are the concepts with a particular spectrum of potential levels (Suldo & Shaffer 2008). It means that students should not confuse the definitions but have to be ready to differentiate the items, explain their difficulties, and recognize their problems. In other words, it is not enough to understand the possibility of the problem but also be ready to make personal conclusions and evaluations of current challenges in order to promote positive well-being and use friends and peers as the main help-seeking sources.
Goals and achievements
Therefore, the goals of the paper under analysis could be clarified with the help of four research questions developed by the authors. The article aims at investigating students’ awareness of such terms as mental health and mental well-being, their abilities to report on mental health problems in time, the recognition of the helpful sources, and the possible differences of understanding the terms among students with different specializations and levels of knowledge. The conclusions made show that the authors prove their position that students’ understanding of mental health issues is not as perfect as it should be, and students have to know more about the sources (except the idea to communicate with peers) to rely on when they face mental health challenges (Laidlaw et al. 2015). In addition, the authors provide the reader with several pieces of advice on how to improve their knowledge. The suggestions include the existing UK campaigns and programs that help to cope with distress among students.
Importance of additional sources
In this study, additional sources are important because of two reasons. First, the authors have to prove their chosen positions and introduce the opinions of other researchers on the same topic. Second, additional sources with the statistical data and theoretical approaches help to create the required basis for the development of independent research. For example, the dual model developed by Suldo and Shaffer (20008) helps to understand the similarities and differences between mental health and mental well-being and provide students with the guide to rely on. The point is that many students accept such mental well-being issues as stress as an ordinary aspect of education. They do not find it necessary to recognize stress as a problem to be solved. What they try to do is to think about new ways to deal with it. It means that they do not want to avoid stress or predict stressful situations. Students just need to believe that they have enough sources to deal with it when it occurs.
Though there is no theoretical basis in the article, the authors take into consideration the importance of the models in mental health evaluation. Mental health problems lead to certain inabilities, and the inabilities result in poor achievements in education and low levels of knowledge. Students cannot cope with the tasks in a proper way, they demonstrate a poor understanding of new information, and they cannot be confident in each step taken (Laidlaw et al. 2015).
To prove the chosen position and the importance of the topic for the analysis, Laidlaw et al. (2015) use approximately-24-minutes-long semi-structured interviews. They cooperate with 20 students (10 20-year-old females and 10 21-year-old males), who prove that their opinions and awareness of mental health and mental well-being vary considerably. Besides, the interviews show that students cannot give the answers to all questions and stay confident in their opinions because of the existing emotional problems.
Current debates and article’s worth
During the current debates, students demonstrate their intentions to achieve positive results and succeed in their transitions into adulthood. They do not want to bother their families when the time to solve psychological or emotional problems comes. What students believe in is the power of their communication with peers and friends, who could have the same challenges and have already found some successful and effective solutions. Help-seeking strategies should not challenge students but create the opportunities and support. Unfortunately, at the moment, students, as well as researchers, do not possess the required portion of the information on how students with emotional and psychological problems could respond appropriately to the current challenges.
In general, the article by Laidlaw et al. (2015) is a helpful source of information about students and their attempts to deal with mental health problems and the promotion of positive mental health well-being. Though not all students know how to deal with emotional problems and find it normal to address their peers for help, there is a belief that the development of specialized programs and campaigns could support undergraduate students and achieve good results in education and transitions into adulthood.
Higher education statistics agency [online]. (2013). Web.
Laidlaw, A., McLellan, J. and Ozakinci, G. (2015). Understanding undergraduate student perceptions of mental health, mental well-being and help-seeking behaviour. Studies in Higher Education, 41(12), pp. 2156-2168.
National centre for education statistics [online]. (2013). Web.
Royal College of Psychiatrists. (2011). The mental health of students in higher education. London: Royal College of Psychiatrists.
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Suldo, SM & Shaffer, EJ 2008, Looking beyond psychopathology: the dual-factor model of mental health in youth, School Psychology Review, vol. 37, no. 1, pp. 52-68.