Data Reflection: Mental Illness in University Students

I am interested in discovering if there is a direct relationship between student wellness and being in university. I’ve complied a quick ‘think about’ chart to design a chart or graph on this topic.

Data [numbers] [design] Thesis [stories]
Mental illness

  • types of illnesses
  • total number affected
  • symptoms (undiagnosed)

Demographics (age/gender)

Number of Classes

GPA grade

Number of Working Hours

Number of Learning Hours

Number of Socializing Hours

Tuition Costs

Monetary Contribution by Parents/Guardians






Form – circular? Accommodate for layers of information


Reading path


The correlation between mental illness and the varying stresses of University


An analysis of students’ time allocation while in school over time


Is mental illness developed through highly stressful environments or a biological ticking time bomb?


Can your demographic status add or take away from stress levels, and therefore hinder or enhance academic performance?



What kind of opinion on the [broad] topic is already out there?

Maclean’s writer Kate Lunau says that “a quarter of university students will experience a mental health problem” – most often stress, anxiety or depression.

Skimming through this article it seems like Lunau talks mostly about the accumulating factors that influence stress and therefore other mentally crippling problems. So it’s hard to determine if it is a direct result of university involvement. I think creating a chart/graph depicting the relationships between the types of data I listed above could help to determine is there really is a mental health crisis on CAMPUS or if it is just a result of other societal changes over time.

This academic article by Zivin, Eisenberg, Gollust, and Goldberstein is evidence that there is a high percentage of students with mental health problems, and also tries to tie in how these problems are affected if students seek help / know if they are facing a medical issue


If there is a direct relationship, what kind of things should change because of it?

  • The way schedules are structured
  • Making it more attainable to do well in school and still experience life to a higher degree (those experiences are a part of learning as well)
  • Letting students know when a feeling they have is a symptom for a health issue instead of a direct problem with their character (try to eliminate or reduce shame in the subject)
  • Determining if it is the fault of the school structure or how the student approaches school (helping students not only to move past their illness but also how to normalize school for them?)


End Note:

I think knowing many people in my post secondary career that have mental illnesses has definitely put me in the space of bias where I believe it is definitely a problem. I think Lanau is correct in saying that with the advancement of the western world we face a lot of other stresses/pressures that could also be a part of this increasing problem. I think it would be interesting to see if the majority of people being diagnosed with these health issues have biological factors or external factors that influence the outcome.


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