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New research — Investigating the current mental health framework for equity groups

New research led by Tomasz Zając from The University of Queensland identified the critical importance of pre-existing poor mental health as a predictor of student attrition during the first year of university.

The NCSEHE-funded study found that two equity cohorts, Indigenous students and people with disability, were more likely to exhibit poor mental health prior to commencing their university studies than their non-equity counterparts. The disparity was much more substantial for students with and without disability. Overall, 42.1 per cent of students with disability used mental health services or medication, compared to 11.3 per cent for students without disability.

Findings included:

  • Pre-existing poor mental health adversely affected all types of student attrition.
  • Effects of poor mental health were most pronounced for student attrition at the higher education level.
  • The effect of poor mental health on student attrition was largely independent of equity group membership.
  • Poor mental health was associated with a rise in the attrition rate ranging between 4.4 and 5.2 percentage points.

Recommendations include:

  • Poor mental health should be considered as a contributing to factor to first year attrition.
  • More funding is needed to support students with disability.
  • A more robust examination is needed to gauge the extent and repercussions of poor mental health amongst university students.

Read the full report, Investigating the relevance of mental health for the current equity groups framework: An analysis of multi-agency linked-administrative data


This research was conducted under the NCSEHE Research Grants Program, funded by the Australian Government Department of Education, Skills and Employment.

Posted 24 March 2022 Posted in Disability, General, Indigenous

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