Postsecondary study and mental ill-health: a meta-synthesis of qualitative research exploring students' lived experiences

Priscilla Ennals, Eleanor Mary Fossey, Linsey Howie

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

19 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Background: The postsecondary educational experiences of students living with mental health issues are not well understood. Existing studies are generally qualitative, small and context-specific in nature, and individually have limited influence on policy and practice.

Aims: To identify and synthesise the findings of qualitative studies exploring student views of studying while living with mental ill-health.

Method: A systematic search of six electronic databases including CINAHL, ERIC, PsycINFO and Medline up to March 2013 was conducted. Findings were extracted from included studies and combined using qualitative meta-synthesis to identify core processes.

Findings: The search identified 16 studies from five countries, with a total of 231 participants. Meta-synthesis of the findings revealed three common core processes: (1) knowing oneself and managing one’s mental illness, (2) negotiating the social space, and (3) doing the academic work required for successful postsecondary participation.

Conclusion: Beyond the learning processes that underpin studying, these findings suggest knowing oneself and negotiating social spaces of educational settings are key processes for students living with mental ill-health seeking to survive and thrive in postsecondary education. With increased awareness of these processes, students and policy makers may conceive new ways to optimise student experiences of postsecondary study.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)111-119
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Mental Health
Volume24
Issue number2
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 27 Apr 2015
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Lived experience
  • mental illness
  • meta-synthesis
  • postsecondary study
  • qualitative
  • students

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