Resilience and Despair


graduate students
mental health
higher education


The purpose of the current study was to explore graduate students’ mental health and educational experiences during the COVID-19 pandemic. Graduate students (N = 28) in Canada completed an online survey consisting of both closed- and open-ended questions related to their mental health, degree progress, and access to campus workspace. Data were analyzed using both quantitative and qualitative approaches before being synthesized through a pillar integration joint display to merge study findings. Based on self-report data, approximately 60% of participants were experiencing poor-to-moderate mental health at the time of the survey. Participants also expressed dissatisfaction with online learning and felt uncertain about their degree trajectory due to changes and restrictions associated with the pandemic. Based on the participants’ responses, recommendations for assisting graduate students during the pandemic are presented. Highlighted by these recommendations is the importance of accessing workspace on campus and the challenges associated with university mental health resources. Overall, nearly 16 months into the pandemic, participants’ mental health was negatively impacted by the restrictions. Although the study findings may not be generalizable to all post-secondary institutions, they can be used to inform university administrators regarding the continued challenges facing graduate students during the pandemic.
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Copyright (c) 2022 Frank O. Ely, Fallon R. Mitchell, Katherine E. Hirsch, Michael Diana, Krista J. Munroe-Chandler, Paula M. van Wyk, Cheri L. McGowan