Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Kinesiology (MKin)


Kinesiology and Physical Education


Faculty of Science

First Advisor

Jennifer Robertson-Wilson

Advisor Role


Second Advisor

Paula C. Fletcher

Advisor Role



Mental health is a concerning issue in post-secondary institutions across Ontario. Post-secondary students are challenged with many stressors such as time management and living independently for the first time (Wagner & Rhee, 2013). In an attempt to help students, maintain or improve their mental health, universities across Ontario have implemented fall reading week, a mid-semester break (Poole et al., 2017). Previous studies (Cramer & Pschibul, 2017; Poole et al., 2017) provided mixed results in whether fall reading week positively influences student mental health and well-being. To date, few studies have explored the influence of fall reading week on student health behaviours. Therefore, this study aimed to examine the effects of fall reading week on students’ health behaviours (exercise, drug use, sleep) and well-being (stress, perceived health).

Drawn from the student population at Wilfrid Laurier University, 126 undergraduate students completed a pre- and post-break questionnaire. The pre-break questionnaire included items inquiring about perceived stress, general health, and health behaviours. The post-break questionnaire included the same items as the pre-break questionnaire, with the exception of items inquiring about use of time during the break. Overall, there was a significant main effect of time on students’ perceived stress, F(1,101) = 11.99, p = 0.009, ηp2 = 0.11. There was also a significant main effect of chronic health condition diagnosis, F(1,101) = 7.17, p < 0.01, ηp2 = 0.07, on perceived stress. Students found their sleep to be more refreshing post-break (p =0.001). During the break, students (28.8%) reported spending more than twenty hours with theirfamily. There were no changes in students’ use of drugs, and participation in leisure time exercise.

Findings from this study may help future researchers interested in improving student mental health, as it provides further knowledge on the understudied area of fall reading week and student mental health.

Convocation Year


Convocation Season


Available for download on Saturday, August 26, 2023