Board 233: CAREER: Supporting Mental Health and Wellness in Engineering Culture to Promote Equitable Change

Karin Jensen, Jeanne Sanders, Eileen Johnson, Joseph Francis Mirabelli, Sara Rose Vohra

Research output: Contribution to journalConference articlepeer-review


Mental health and wellness in engineering education is an under-studied area of critical importance. Environments that promote mental health and wellness likely have long-term, impactful benefits. However, the culture of engineering in higher education has been described as a culture where engineering students experience higher stress, diminished mental health, and lower retention rates when compared to students in other disciplines [1-3]. This culture of stress is detrimental to mental health and wellness and is thus a critical space for change efforts. To address this challenge, this project seeks to answer the following question: How can we dismantle a culture of high stress in engineering and instead foster a culture that promotes wellness? To answer this question, the presented project uses a mixed-methods approach to examine the time-evolution of engineering stress culture, educators' perceptions of the normalization of this stress culture, and resources that support a culture of wellness. Prior work includes the development of a stress culture measure [4] and student cognitive interview analysis [5]. The project has recently focused on 1) a longitudinal survey of student experiences with the engineering stress culture that includes confirmatory validation of a survey instrument developed as part of this project around engineering stress culture [4]; 2) faculty, staff, and student interviews to clarify survey findings; and 3) creating a virtual community to support practitioners, collaboratively solve problems, and envision new futures around dismantling this culture of high stress. This paper will detail preliminary findings from interviews with faculty and staff on recommended resources to support student mental health and wellness as well as an overview of the mental health and wellness virtual community (MHW-VC). Overall, this project seeks to create lasting change by contributing to the engineering education community's understanding of possible ways of dismantling engineering stress culture and fostering a culture that promotes wellbeing.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalASEE Annual Conference and Exposition, Conference Proceedings
StatePublished - Jun 25 2023
Externally publishedYes
Event2023 ASEE Annual Conference and Exposition - The Harbor of Engineering: Education for 130 Years, ASEE 2023 - Baltimore, United States
Duration: Jun 25 2023Jun 28 2023

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Engineering


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