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    Predictors of help-seeking behaviour in UK university students during the COVID-19 pandemic

    Burns, D, Dagnall, N ORCID logoORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0003-0657-7604 and Denovan, A ORCID logoORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0002-9082-7225 (2023) Predictors of help-seeking behaviour in UK university students during the COVID-19 pandemic. Journal of Further and Higher Education, 47 (6). pp. 727-739. ISSN 0013-1326

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    Abstract

    Studying at university and obtaining a degree is not only an appealing prospect, but now considered a necessity in the current economic climate in the UK. Concurrent financial, social, and academic challenges can converge and present a threat to student wellbeing. The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated existing challenges whilst adding novel stressors to the Higher Education context. Despite a growing prevalence of poor psychological outcomes in students, not all students reach out for help. Understanding factors that predict actual help-seeking behaviour during a period of intense upheaval could provide insight into which groups would benefit from additional attention and resource. The aim of this study was to explore predictors of help-seeking behaviour in a large sample of UK university students during the COVID-19 pandemic. 1261 participants completed a 40-item bespoke health-related questionnaire whilst under social restrictions. Hierarchical binary logistic regression revealed that students who had sought help for an emotional difficulty were more likely to be female and studying at a postgraduate level. Participants seeking help were also more likely to have recently changed accommodation, reported higher stress levels and higher Fear of COVID-19 scores. These results contribute towards the understanding of help-seeking behaviours during times of unprecedented stress and social isolation. Institutions could consider these findings should further outbreaks of COVID-19 occur, or in the eventuality of another pandemic. Outreach work may be beneficial for those most susceptible to social isolation should infection control measures be reintroduced in the future.

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