UBC Undergraduate Research

Evaluating Awareness & Barriers of UBC Mental Health Services Amongst Upper-Year Students In Relation to Gender and Ethnicity Lu, Angie; Seto, Collin; Yoo, Tom; Weng, Kevin; Zhang, Wade


The purpose of this study was to identify and analyze the barriers around the current University of British Columbia (UBC) mental health services awareness and accessibility, with a focus on its potential associations of gender and ethnicity. We aimed to provide applicable recommendations based on the results that could improve student awareness of available services, and increase the overall quality of these services for students to gain the maximum possible benefits for their mental health. This study was conducted following a quantitative study design in which participants completed an online Qualtrics survey to provide information about student awareness and barriers to mental health services, giving a better understanding of what could be done to make these services more worthwhile for students. Participants were recruited through postings on social media platforms Facebook and Instagram, with a target population of upper-year UBC undergraduate students. A combination of close-ended and open-ended questions were presented in the survey, and responses from 41 total participants were collected for further interpretation. Statistical analysis and a form of thematic analysis was used to categorize responses by gender and ethnicity, allowing for an identification of overarching themes among student participants related to the current state of UBC mental health services. In-depth analysis of the participants’ responses and resulting data illustrated a number of key findings. In terms of gender, awareness of mental health services showed minimal differences between men and women, contradicting observations in previous research. Stigma seemed to play a large role in barriers to using these services. In terms of ethnicity, it was found that South Asian students demonstrated the greatest overall levels of awareness, while Filipino students demonstrated the lowest levels of awareness. Our results showed that White students showed the lowest tendencies of being affected by barriers to services despite presenting no differences in awareness, as they were still shown to utilize the most services among ethnic groups. A notable trend among all ethnicities was that a perceived ineffectiveness of services and judgment by friends and family were common barriers to accessing services. Open-ended responses displayed a common tendency in which students determined that mental health services were not a necessity for them, and that negative rumors from peers about the services played a significant role in decisions to not seeking services. Based on our findings, we came up with four recommendations for UBC mental health services to consider for addressing the noted barriers and awareness issues. These include the creation of an infographic that outlines information on the available services, encouragement and support on the continued use of services for students in need through the integration of feedback forms and goal setting processes, recruitment of peer ambassadors for mental health promotion and service outreach, and finally, future research into the differences in service use between genders that are likely beneficial for creating more effective ways to present mental health resources that align with the preferences of all genders. Disclaimer: “UBC SEEDS provides students with the opportunity to share the findings of their studies, as well as their opinions, conclusions and recommendations with the UBC community. The reader should bear in mind that this is a student project/report and is not an official document of UBC. Furthermore readers should bear in mind that these reports may not reflect the current status of activities at UBC. We urge you to contact the research persons mentioned in a report or the SEEDS Coordinator about the current status of the subject matter of a project/report.”

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