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|Self-esteem and mental health of students with special educational needs: A longitudinal study of inclusive education in an institute of higher education
|Ng, Anna Hoi Nga
Boey, Kam Weng
|Kwan, C. W.
|FSTE Conference: Cultivating Well-being and Whole Person Development in Higher Education
Many students with SEN have completed their early schooling and are pursuing their study in tertiary institutes. Moving from secondary to tertiary level represents a transition process in which more vulnerabilities are revealed. Students with SEN spend additional effort to cope with the academic stress and challenges in higher education. Based on data gathered by an institute via its annual student survey, the objective of this study was to examine psychological outcomes viz., self-esteem and mental health status (in terms of depression, anxiety, and stress) of students with SEN over the course of an academic year. Two batches of students (enrolled in academic year of 2018 and 2019) were assessed at the beginning of the first and second academic year (designated T1 and T2 respectively). The first and second batch consisted of respectively 35 and 53 students with SEN. There was no significant difference in the pattern of disabilities between the two batches. Psychological outcomes measured at T1 and T2 showed that both batches of students of SEN were significantly poorer than their peers without SEN, indicating that participating in tertiary institute with inclusive practice did not promote the psychological outcomes measured. With regard to the first batch of students with SEN, self-esteem were declined and symptoms of depression, anxiety, and stress increased to a higher level when assessed at T2. As for the second batch of students with SEN, self-esteem decline relatively to a lesser extent and their mental health status did not change significantly at T2 on account of the introduction of supportive services provided by the institute in academic year 2019. The supportive services included counselling to help resolve emotional problems, tutorial sessions to teach study skills, time management, etc. Specialist consultations were provided for students with emotional and academic problems that required professional help from a SEN expert). This study provided suggestive evidence that supportive services arranged for students with SEN helped prevent decline of psychological outcomes in term of self-esteem and symptoms of depression, anxiety, and stress.
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