Deakin University

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Mental health-related knowledge, attitudes and behaviours in a cross-sectional sample of australian university students: a comparison of domestic and international students

journal contribution
posted on 2023-02-20, 03:50 authored by Tony LaMontagneTony LaMontagne, C Shann, E Lolicato, Danielle Newton, Patrick Owen, AJ Tomyn, NJ Reavley
Background: There are growing concerns about the mental health of university students in Australia and internationally, with universities, governments and other stakeholders actively developing new policies and practices. Previous research suggests that many students experience poor mental health while at university, and that the risk may be heightened for international students. Mental health-related knowledge, attitudes and behaviours are modifiable determinants of mental health and thus suitable targets for intervention. This study assessed the mental health-related knowledge, stigmatising attitudes, helping behaviours, and self-reported experiences of mental health problems in the student population of a large multi-campus Australian university, and conducted a comparative assessment of international and domestic students. Methods: Participants were 883 international and 2,852 domestic students (overall response rate 7.1%) who completed an anonymous voluntary online survey that was sent to all enrolled students in July 2019 (n = ~ 52,341). Various measures of mental health-related knowledge, attitudes and helping behaviours were assessed. A comparative analysis of international and domestic students was conducted, including adjustment for age and sex. Results: Overall, there was evidence of improvements in mental health-related knowledge, attitudes and behaviours relative to previous studies, including higher depression recognition, intentions to seek help, and reported help-seeking behaviour. Comparative analysis indicated that international students scored predominantly lower on a range of indicators (e.g., depression recognition, awareness of evidence-based forms of help); however, differences were narrower difference between the two groups compared to what has been reported previously. Finally, some indicators were more favourable among international students, such as higher help-seeking intentions, and lower prevalence of self-reported mental health problems compared to domestic students. Conclusion: Though there were some important differences between domestic and international students in this study, differences were narrower than observed in previous studies. Study findings are informing the on-going implementation and refinement of this university’s student mental health strategy, and may be used to inform evolving policy and practice in the university sector.



BMC Public Health



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