A Case Study Investigating Mental Wellbeing of University Academics during the COVID-19 Pandemic

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COVID-19 has impacted Higher Education worldwide. While several studies have examined the effects of the pandemic on students, few have addressed its impact on academic staff. Here, we present both survey (n = 89) and interview (n = 12) data highlighting the pandemic-induced effects on academics from various disciplines and career stages. Data was collected between May and September 2020, aiming to capture and understand the immediate effects of the U.K. lockdown on the academics examining demographic and employment factors, digital abilities and confidence, and mental wellbeing. Analyses revealed that most academics were satisfied with the support they received from the university and colleagues, and they had adequate equipment and space at home to work. However, half incurred additional financial costs to maintain access to technology and many felt an altered relationship with the university. There were discrepancies in digital abilities and confidence according to employment status, age, faculty, and social identity as an academic. Teaching workload did not increase across the board, rather seniority predicted increases. Levels of wellbeing were low but were not significantly predicted by workload increase or abilities and confidence in working digitally as might have been expected. Stronger social identity as an academic may predict higher mental wellbeing with qualitative data suggesting teamwork and collegiate activities helped. Furthermore, interviewees identified several positive aspects to working remotely. These findings suggest universities should consider carefully how to support all staff to work digitally and consider flexible working post-pandemic.

Original languageEnglish
Article number702
JournalEducation Sciences
Issue number11
Early online date2 Nov 2021
Publication statusPublished - 2 Nov 2021


  • Digital capabilities
  • Online teaching
  • Social identity
  • Wellbeing


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