Student mental health and transitions into, through and out of university: Student and staff perspectives


Cage E, Jones E, Ryan G, Hughes G & Spanner L (2021) Student mental health and transitions into, through and out of university: Student and staff perspectives. Journal of Further and Higher Education, 45 (8), pp. 1076-1089.

Student mental health is an issue of paramount concern and it is recognised that transitions may have a negative impact. However, little work has captured transition-related experiences of students and staff. This study examined perspectives on perceived challenges with transitions into, during and out of university, and perceptions of what support would be beneficial for transitions. Students (n = 67) and staff (n = 40) from universities across the United Kingdom participated in focus groups on transitions and student mental health. We used thematic analysis to identify themes. For students, themes focused on equipping them to cope, enabling support networks, developing an inclusive culture and lengthening transition periods. For staff, themes centred on fostering student preparedness, community and social support, challenges faced by support services, and a ‘whole university’ approach. There were similarities in student and staff perspectives and by comparing and integrating these perspectives, specific recommendations have been identified. These focus on working in partnership, skills development, peer mentoring, funding, staff training and providing additional support for the transition out of university. This study has implications for practices in Higher Education, to ensure students are appropriately supported throughout university in a way which could ultimately benefit their mental health.

Student mental health; transitions; higher education

Journal of Further and Higher Education: Volume 45, Issue 8

Publication date31/12/2021
Publication date online10/02/2021
Date accepted by journal07/01/2021

Research programmes

Research themes