Mental Health and Learning Among Students with Marginalized Sociodemographic Identities

Author: Frederick Ezekiel (2021)

Postsecondary educators have been increasingly focused on supporting positive student mental health over the past decades. Postsecondary institutions are uniquely positioned to support a demographic of students who experience the greatest risk of first onset of mental illness as a result of the developmental trajectory of many common mental illnesses (within the 16-24 age window; Jones, 2013). Additionally, poor mental health and toxic stress have a detrimental impact on learning and academic performance. My research seeks to understand disparities in mental health outcomes among students with marginalized sociodemographic identities in Canada, and the relationship between mental health and learning with marginalized communities. Through this work, I identified that marginalized sociodemographic groups experience languishing mental health at rates 1.6 – 3.4 times that of their peers. Additionally, much of the difference in academic performance among students with marginalized sociodemographic identities was statistically explained by disparities in mental health. As we expand our focus on enhancing student mental health, we must critically examine sociocultural factors influencing disparities in mental health outcomes among postsecondary students. Of equal importance, we must examine institutional actions which could begin to address the systemic barriers and mechanisms through which these inequities emerge.

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