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Mental Distress and Associated Factors Among Undergraduate Engineering Students of Hawassa University, Ethiopia

Authors Reta Y, Samuel T, Mekonnen M

Received 11 November 2019

Accepted for publication 14 January 2020

Published 31 January 2020 Volume 2020:13 Pages 99—107


Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single anonymous peer review

Peer reviewer comments 2

Editor who approved publication: Dr Scott Fraser

Yared Reta,1 Tinbete Samuel,2,* Mekedes Mekonnen2,*

1Department of Psychiatry, Hawassa University, Hawassa, SNNPR, Ethiopia; 2School of Nursing, Hawassa University, Hawassa, SNNPR, Ethiopia

*These authors contributed equally to this work

Correspondence: Yared Reta Email [email protected]

Background: Mental distress is a range of symptoms and experiences of a person’s internal life that are commonly held to be troubling, confusing or out of the ordinary. Mental distress often interferes with studying, social interaction, and academic outcomes. Therefore, this study aimed at assessing the prevalence of mental distress and factors associated with it among undergraduate engineering students at Hawassa University.
Methods: We conducted an institution-based cross-sectional descriptive study on undergraduate engineering students at Hawassa University. We collected the data from January to April 30, 2018, using interviewer-administered Self-Report Questionnaire 20 (SRQ-20) from 341 participants selected by stratified sampling and we performed multiple logistic regression analysis to find factors associated with mental distress.
Results: Out of the total study population, 222 (65.1%) were males, and 172 (50.4%) were age ≥ 21. We found the prevalence of mental distress using SRQ-20 with a cut-off point ≥ 8 to be 28.7%. Female students were 2.9 times more likely to have mental distress as compared to male students (AOR= 2.90, 95% CI: 1.52– 5.50). Facing financial problem (AOR= 2.20; CI = 1.25– 3.85), poor social support (AOR= 2.58, 95% CI: 1.51– 4.42), lack of interest in their field of study (AOR=2.57; CI: 1.23– 5.38) and unresolved conflict with roommate (AOR= 2.29, 95% CI: 1.08– 4.00) were significant predictors of mental distress.
Conclusion: This study showed a high prevalence of mental distress among engineering students. So, policymakers, university officials, and parents need to give due attention to engineering undergraduate students for proactive measures.

Keywords: mental distress, engineering students, Hawassa, Ethiopia

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