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Research @ Queen’s: Answering a global call for student mental health services

Queen's researcher Anne Duffy is addressing a global knowledge gap in understanding university student mental health needs.

[Illustration of students under a cloud]
Illustration by Gary Neill

Post-secondary institutions around the world take great pride in enhancing the talents of the best and brightest people that society has to offer, an undertaking that yields tangible benefits as graduates contribute back to that same society during the course of their careers. This prospect animates campus life with promise and excitement, representing the opportunity of a lifetime that is usually fondly remembered as a time of growth, learning, and fulfillment.

Did you know that the university recently launched a new central website for Queen’s research? From in-depth features to the latest information on the university’s researchers, the site is a destination showcasing the impact of Queen’s research. Discover Research@Queen’s.

Less fondly recalled may be those inevitable bumps in the road as students find their way, especially if they are living away from home for the first time. Some of the challenges are easily identified and addressed, such as learning to do laundry or shopping for groceries on a budget. Other issues may be more subtle. For example, young people who easily excelled in high school may find themselves surrounded by capable peers with whom they are evenly matched. This can lead them to question their abilities and even temporarily affect their sense of self. While most students build skills and develop resiliency as they settle into a new educational setting and phase of life, this period of social and academic transition can trigger self-doubt and anxiety that, for some students, can also compromise their long-term potential to succeed.

[Anne Duffy]
Dr. Anne Duffy (Psychiatry)

In fact, while late-adolescence and early-adulthood represent an important step toward more autonomy, new personal relationships, and the embrace of a broader perspective on life, it is also a time of heightened exposure to stress and risk. In the absence of support to help an individual stay on track, negative influences such as alcohol, drugs, or poor sleep habits can introduce mental health problems. As distress turns into the early stages of mental illness for some individuals, it does not discriminate on the basis of education or social status — it affects us all in one way or another.

Continue the story on the Research@Queen’s website.