Mental Health On University Compuses

Representation of Students’ Mental Health in Information Resources and in Professionally Assigned and User-Generated Terms.

By Par Marcin Trzmielewski, PhD student,  LERASS-CERIC, Université Paul-Valéry Montpellier 3, France.

Medical knowledge organization systems, such as classifications, thesauri, ontologies and tags, are used to organize health information and to enable access to documents in physical and digital libraries, in healthcare organizations and on the Web (Trzmielewski and Gnoli 2021). Apart from information retrieval, they “can be used to gauge societal thinking” (Huber 2000, 222), and to increase awareness on the sensitive nature of health in the population through the mediation of scientific, social and cultural phenomena (Trzmielewski and Gnoli 2021).

We examined and described information resources on student’s mental health, and we analyzed

the organization and representation of information on students’ mental health, as reflected in MeSH terms used by catalogers to index documents on PubMed, and as evidenced by tags created by users on LibraryThing to index books on this web application. We qualitatively collected indexing terms on PubMed and on LibraryThing and we classified them into thematic categories which were developed during the analysis. Gathered data (which are indexing terms and pieces of information about involved actors and disciplines) allowed us to propose a taxonomy sample.

The selected articles on PubMed are written by consultants and researchers in medicine and social sciences and are addressed to other specialists. Publications are issued from general, specialized, and cross-disciplinary journals. Books cited on LibraryThing, are written by the same category of actors and they are addressed to the wider public than on PubMed, for example to teachers, parents, students, and mental health professionals. The proposed taxonomy shows that students’ mental health is a multidisciplinary subject studied by nursing, education, psychiatry, psychology, and epidemiology. Students are stratified in four distinct age groups (childhood, adolescence, young adult age and adult age), highlighting the transition through different life periods. A special focus is attached on students in medical schools, because of a high exposure of this group to mental health issues. Recurrent student mental health disorders are depression, schizophrenia, substance-related disorders, addiction, ADHD, and burnout, while main behaviors include suicide, anxiety, stress, suicidal ideation, substance abuse and emotional problems. Student mental health is associated with social contexts experienced during college and university, such as hostility, stereotyping, violence, permissiveness, bullying, alcohol drinking and sexual activity. Treatment and initiatives applied to manage these issues are mindfulness, self-help groups, self-care, therapy, cooperative behavior, counseling, psychotherapy, education, anti-drug propaganda, prevention, and control. Digital tools may be sources of cyber aggression but may also be considered as help-seeking devices. Types of organization related to the student mental disorders are university, faculty, medical school, college, and workplace where students accomplish their internships. Anglophone territories, related to the USA, the UK, and Canada are mostly represented, while other countries are neglected. Indexing terms on LibraryThing often refer to Mental Health Awareness Month.

The proposed taxonomy highlights the complexity of real-life situations and experiences related to mental health students are confronted with. Special attention is given to the nursing domain and professionals, revealing the importance attributed by society to primary care actors and interventions in managing student mental health disorders. Collected terms and established categories in this study may serve as a base to develop models of medical knowledge organization systems to organize and mediate knowledge on student’s mental health.