Study to assess mental health needs of graduating Brock students

A new study aims to determine how Brock students can be further supported in their final year at the University.

Students in the final year of their undergraduate programs will receive an email on Monday, April 19 linking to a survey from the “Student Health in Final-Year Transitions (SHIFT) Study.”

The survey will assess the mental health needs of students as they prepare to graduate, while also identifying key challenges and concerns, and current and desired supports. The information collected will be used to contribute to the development of resources to help graduating students successfully navigate this transitionary phase.

In collaboration with Brock’s Student Wellness and Accessibility Centre (SWAC) and Co-op, Career and Experiential Education (CCEE), Assistant Professor of Health Sciences Karen Patte will lead the study that includes post-doctoral fellow Markus Duncan, PhD student Megan Magier, Associate Vice-Provost, Teaching and Learning Madelyn Law, SWAC Director Sarah Pennisi, and fourth-year Medical Sciences student Hussain Chattha.

In addition to the upcoming survey, the team will also conduct online interviews with students after graduation to reflect on the transition and provide further context.

Chattha said the study will zero in on a critical crossroads in students’ academic journeys.

Fourth-year Medical Sciences student Hussain Chattha is part of a Brock University research team that will survey final-year students to assess their mental health needs as they prepare to graduate.

“As a graduating student, we face a lot of uncertainties as we prepare to open the next chapter of our lives. Transitioning out of university is a crucial time when mental illness may first manifest,” he said. “Checking in with students preparing to transition will be crucial to refine the supports and services that are offered to them.”

Patte said the study explores a time in students’ post-secondary education that has received less attention in the past.

“There has rightly been a lot of focus on student mental health as they transition into university, but little research exists on how to best support them in this next major life transition, which is potentially even more challenging in the current context of the pandemic,” she said.

Any student who has submitted their intent to graduate will receive the survey, which will address questions including:

  • How do students believe they could be better supported as they prepare to graduate?
  • What primary challenges and stressors do students experience while in the final year of their programs?
  • In what ways are students currently managing stressors related to preparing to graduate?
  • What differences exist across subgroups?

SWAC Director Sarah Pennisi said the survey will have an immediate impact on mental health initiatives at Brock.

“Student responses in this survey will be used by SWAC to shape our services and supports,” she said. “We look always to ask students directly about what they need so that we are responding effectively to their health and wellness concerns.”

Chattha said the results will also allow graduating students to leave a lasting legacy at the University.

“Participation in the study will offer an important opportunity for graduating students to voice their concerns about the transitioning experience and pave a better way for future graduating students,” he said.

To learn more about the SHIFT Study, email Magier at or Patte at

Read more stories in: Applied Health Sciences, Faculty & staff, Graduate Students, Graduate Studies, News, People, Research
Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , ,