Date of Award

Spring 5-12-2017

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Public Health (MPH)

Department

Public Health

First Advisor

Dr. Eric Wright

Second Advisor

Dr. Jill Lee-Barber

Third Advisor

Dr. Mikyta Daugherty

Abstract

Introduction: Mental health seeking behaviors among nontraditional students, particularly Black students, is an area that should be examined closely with care and strategy. There are a plethora of factors that pose risks to nontraditional students completing their education. There is something to take note of when 38% of nontraditional students leave their first year compared to 16% of traditional students (National Center for Education Statistics, 2012).

Objective: This study assessed the risk factors and demographic variables associated with mental health seeking behaviors in Black nontraditional students vs. White nontraditional students at Georgia State University.

Methods: Descriptive demographic data were used to find a statistical difference and likelihood of occurrences of the variables: sex, race, age, reduction of alcohol or drug use, financial stress, and suicide consideration.

Results: Black students reported experiencing higher levels of stress due to finances. When looking at counseling utilization for nontraditional pupils, more White students sought prior therapy before their arrival to Georgia State University (25.3%) compared to Black students (13.4%). Black students were more likely than Whites to attempt suicide 1-5 times, but overall, there were minimal differences between races in the overall percentage. Examining if Black male veterans wished to reduce drinking and drug use more than White males, a two-sample hypothesis test was used (P-value=.21 using alpha .05). I failed to reject the null hypothesis, meaning the proportions are the same and there is no statistical difference between races. Blacks vs. Whites who sought counseling before or after college had a P-value of .00308. This test is significant at the alpha level .05 therefore we reject the null hypothesis that the proportions are the same. We conclude that there is a significant difference in the proportion of blacks who sought counseling before or after college from whites who sought counseling before or after college. I also looked at Blacks vs. Whites who never sought counseling. The P value is 0.00. This test is significant at the alpha .05 level thus we reject the null hypothesis. There is a significant difference between the proportions of Blacks vs Whites that have never sought counseling.

Conclusions: Although there are mental health disparities that exist across the population of nontraditional students, a focus should be on nontraditional Black students. Universities should increase the budget for counseling services to expand supporting staff to accommodate individuals with needs. Nontraditional students have higher risks of possibly not graduating and ensuring the appropriate resources are in place is critical as a part of success.

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