Mental Health Support in Higher Education: Current Trends and Future Directions

Article Date | 17 October, 2023

By Hararia Ijaz, Lecturer in Business, LSST Luton


This article aims to discuss the mental health support in HE (Higher Education). Mental health is a critical aspect for students who continue their education – especially after a break and with additional family responsibilities. Mental health support in HE institutes is a critical area of concern as it directly deals with the recognition of mental health challenges being faced by students in the same setting.


Current State

A wide range of educational institutes existing in England are offering mental health support services to students. However, Zhai and Du (2020) highlight in their research that despite such an offering, about 43% of students were found to be facing mental health challenges while at HE institutes, which showcases the severity of the issue. There are a wide range of causes contributing to the increasing rate of mental health challenges amongst students, including staff shortages, insufficient funding, and a lack of specialised mental health services. This aspect was significantly realised amongst HE institutes during COVID-19 when a wide range of students, as well as staff members, demanded or needed mental health support services, which highlights the area for improvement in this regard (see Chen and Lucock, 2022). At LSST, we are widening the infrastructure in order to enhance the mental health provisions and services offered. A greater number of staff members are coming on board for Mental Health and Student Wellbeing and working in close collaboration. At my campus (LSST Luton), I note that an increasing number of staff are focusing on the wellbeing of students.


Key strategies to address the challenge

Increasing cooperation between HE institutes and outside mental health organisations is an important method for addressing the mental health issues facing HE institutions. The variety of support options accessible to students can be expanded through collaborations with regional mental health agencies, charities, and organisations (Odgers and Jensen, 2020). The exchange of materials and best practices is also made easier by this collaborative approach.

Technology may significantly enhance mental health support in contemporary times. For instance, HE institutions could invest in websites or mobile applications that tend to offer access to information, self-help tools, and virtual counselling sessions to students (Zhai and Du, 2022). These digital materials, especially for distant or online learners, can help close the access to the mental health care divide.

Finally, the mental support programmes must be assessed and evaluated on a regular basis (Burger, Becker, and Schoon, 2023). For this reason, HE institutes should be required to collect, examine, and analyse the data on a regular basis related to student mental health conditions to determine the areas for improvement (Toquero, 2020). LSST is striving to become more inclusive and accessible. One of the goals is to improve the quality of wellbeing services so that more students will seek support from the experts employed by LSST.

Next steps

In light of the points mentioned above, it is clear that while mental health support is recognised as a requirement in higher education institutes, its implementation can be limited due to various challenges such as staff shortages, insufficient funding, and a lack of specialised mental health services. To overcome these challenges, effective collaboration among staff members, the use of technology, and regular monitoring are necessary.


If you require immediate Mental Health & Wellbeing Support please contact NHS on 111 or visit

📞 Samaritans are available 24/7 for free on 116 123. 📱 Crisis Text Line are available 24/7, simply text SHOUT to 85258.


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