Date of Conferral
Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)
A West Coast university has had an increase of students who have experienced anxiety or depression over the last few years and have not sought professional assistance. Students have stated that multiple factors contributed to their anxiety or depression, including difficulty adjusting to their new college environment. This challenge has disrupted students' academic performances and often left them without professional help to deal with their anxiety or depression. The purpose of this qualitative narrative inquiry was to increase understanding of factors that lead undergraduate students to experience anxiety and depression and factors that led to their decision to seek or not seek assistance on campus during their 1st year of college. The conceptual framework that was used encompasses how Ajzen's theory of planned behavior relates to help-seeking behaviors of students. Research questions addressed factors that contribute to an undergraduate's anxiety or depression and what led them to seek or not seek professional assistance during their first year. Eleven undergraduates with a history of anxiety or depression were asked to participate in face-to-face interviews to address the research questions. Narrative analysis was used to analyze the data. The most common themes that were found to have contributed to mental health challenges were pressure, transition and adjustment, and roommate and familial challenges. In addition, the factors that led participants to seek or not seek professional help included influence by peers, affordability, and perceived stigma. Based on findings from the study, a white paper was developed to attempt to improve the institution's culture of mental health by encouraging students to seek assistance for their anxiety and depression without any internal and external barriers.