Celebration of Scholarship and Creative Activity 2022
Unmet mental health needs can hinder academic performance, retention, and graduation rates in college populations. According to The National Alliance on Mental Illness, 64% of former college students dropped out because of a mental health related reason (Gruttadaro & Crudo, 2012). Nontraditional students struggle with increased stress and less focus on their needs by higher education. Goncalves and Trunk (2014) found nontraditional students can feel isolated, aloe, and express a lack of attention to their needs by educational institutions. It has also been indicated that nontraditional students experience more stress than their traditional peers, often due to nonacademic demands (Giancola, Grawitch & Botchert, 2006). While there is some literature surrounding the mental health needs of nontraditional undergraduate students, students who have a degree and are returning to universities in some capacity after a gap in time are left out of the literature. Therefore, this study sought to answer the research questions: What do nontraditional post-baccalaureate students (both undergraduate and graduate) perceive to be their mental health needs? What would aid nontraditional post-baccalaureate students in meeting their perceived mental health needs? It was discovered that nontraditional post-baccalaureate students perceive they are experiencing emotions or stress that are impacting their well-being and academic performance. The stressors with the biggest impact were a lack of time and life balance. Four key areas of focus to aid in them meeting these needs were identified, including thinking beyond the undergraduate student, targeted communication, facilitating connections, and the impact of faculty and staff.