- Alana Holt, BSN, MD, FRCPC, Psychiatrist, Clinical Practice Lead, University of Saskatchewan, Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada
- Kyle Schwartz, BSW, MSW, RSW. Social Worker, Student Wellness Centre, University of Saskatchewan
Undoubtedly, the global Covid- 19 pandemic has had a significant impact on the mental health of our transitional youth and young adult population including our post-secondary international and national students who are often living in isolation, frequently away from their family supports, studying virtually, and navigating their disability in this context. The impact of digitalization on academic performance in students with disabilities and the social, economic, and environmental factors and disparities potentially add additional challenges. I will address these factors of health equity in the post-secondary student with ADHD population and how to seek justice and fair mental health treatment, in this vulnerable population. The university student population is an important developmental era in the field of ADHD, as many students receive a first-time diagnosis of ADHD in their early university years. They may leave home for the first time. They begin adulting and have much to manage- making meals, cleaning their living quarters, doing laundry, and managing a much larger academic workload, often with few supports, and now, due to the pandemic, may be in isolation. These students are bright, often went through their academic years without or with little academic difficulty, and may have had wrap around support at home, hence having never experienced significant functional difficulty and thus never assessed or diagnosed. University students often present with a comorbid condition- for example depression, anxiety, eating disorder, cannabis use disorder or OCD, and if not assessing for ADHD, it will get missed in many cases. Untreated ADHD increases the risk of academic failure and drop out, accidents, STI’s, substance use disorders, to name just a few of the functional impacts of ADHD. Treating ADHD makes a BIG difference in the wellness of these emerging youth and young adults- from mental health and wellness, to academic and social success. Treating ADHD will lead to improvements in their concurrent symptoms of mental distress. To successfully treat ADHD, it is best done in a collaborative care approach within an integrated, interdisciplinary team. This session will review the challenges and ways to assess and diagnose ADHD in the university population, and how our team has transitioned to virtual care. Within the context of collaborative team care, I will review biopsychosocial treatment recommendations from pharmacological treatment, to therapy and academic support strategies to enhance the recovery of a university students with ADHD and concurrent symptoms.
- Assess and diagnose ADHD and its common concurrent disorders in post-secondary students, both in person & virtually.
- Treat ADHD and comorbidities in students with a collaborative, integrated, biopsychosocial approach and how to provide equitable digital care.
- Support academic outcomes and health in students with ADHD, considering health equity and justice in the context of disparities & digitalization.