Adjustment to higher education among students with mental health disorders

Inbar Aharoni Zorach, Orly Lipka

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The current study examined the adjustment to higher education among students with mental health disorders, focusing on adjustment to post-secondary education, emotional and metacognitive variables. The participants were 123 students who had already completed at least one year at an institution of higher education: 63 students who self-identified themselves with mental health disorders and 60 students who did not identify with any mental health disorders or disability. Students with mental health disorders reported on lower levels of adjustment (social, emotional, institutional, and academic) to post-secondary education than students with no mental health disorders. In addition, students with mental health disorders reported lower satisfaction with life, academic self-efficacy, and higher levels of test anxiety than students without mental health disorders. Furthermore, significant between-group differences were found in three meta-cognition subscales. Lastly, satisfaction with life, test anxiety, academic self-efficacy, and disability status and five metacognition subscales predicted 75% of the variability in adjustment to higher education in the entire sample. These findings suggest that following their first year in higher education, students with mental health disorders continue to experience difficulties in social, emotional, institutional, and academic adjustment. Implications of the results are discussed.

Original languageEnglish
JournalHigher Education Research and Development
StateAccepted/In press - 2022

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Applications were sent to all the universities and several additional institutes of higher learning in Israel, asking that they be forwarded to students who had completed one or more years of study and had been diagnosed with a mental health disorder. In addition, information about the study was posted on social networks and students with mental health disorders were invited to contact the researchers if they wished to participate. All students who expressed willingness to participate in the study were contacted by phone or online and provided with information about the research objectives, significance, and process. After giving verbal consent, students were asked to sign informed consent forms confirming their willingness to participate in the study and to complete the questionnaires online (which was expected to take up to 40 minutes). After recruiting students who had been diagnosed with mental health disorders, we recruited students without disabilities who matched the experimental group as closely as possible with respect to gender, institution of higher education, field of study, and year of study. The recruiting took place from 2017 to 2019. The procedure for obtaining consent was identical in the control group. Students returned the questionnaires to the researcher via email and received $20 for their efforts. This research was supported by the Israeli National Insurance Institute (Social Security) and received the approval of the University of Haifa Faculty of Education Ethics Committee.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022 HERDSA.


  • Adjustment
  • higher education
  • mental health disorder

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education


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