Strategies for Supporting Graduate Student Well-Being

By Ashby Kinch, University of Montana & Beverly Karplus Hartline, Montana Technological University

The Mental Health Opportunities for Professional Empowerment in STEM (M-HOPES) is a collaborative project led by Montana Technological University, Montana State University Billings, and the University of Montana and funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF). The goal of this project was to design, pilot, assess, and implement evidence-based, sustainable and replicable strategies to facilitate and enhance graduate-student mental health across all three campuses.


Visit M-HOPES project page


Insights from the Montana University System M-HOPES Grant Presentation PDF
  • In Year 1 (2021/22) issues were amplified by COVID-19, social turmoil, & career uncertainty.
    •  In Year 2 survey, Social Isolation improved by 0.32 and Social Support improved by 0.21, perhaps due to end of COVID restrictions.
  • Greater challenges for women, racial/ethnic minorities, veterans, students with disabilities, & international students.
  • STEM students had significantly higher impostorism (+0.3; ⍺=.05) than non-STEM students.
  • Faculty recognize student stresses & need for well-being support; desire mentoring skills to engage diverse students well.
  • Over 60% of faculty respondents had referred a student for mental health assistance.
  • Participation is a major challenge.
    •  Students and faculty have too little “free time.”
    •  “Stigma” may also be a factor.
    •  Only about half of registrants attend.
    •  Only about a third complete a multi-session activity.
  •  Participants in M-HOPES pilot activities had small
    improvements in STEM Experiences & Mentoring scales.
  • Huge appreciation for visible attention to wellness.