Key questions: Research priorities for student mental health

Katie Sampson, Michael Priestley, Alyson L. Dodd*, Emma Broglia, Til Wykes, Dan Robotham, Katie Tyrrell, Marta Ortega Vega, Nicola C. Byrom

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Citations (Scopus)


Background The high prevalence of mental distress among university students is gaining academic, policy and public attention. As the volume of research into student mental health increases, it is important to involve students to ensure that the evidence produced can translate into meaningful improvements. Aims For the first time, we consult UK students about their research priorities on student mental health. Method This priority setting exercise involved current UK university students who were asked to submit three research questions relating to student mental health. Responses were aggregated into themes through content analysis and considered in the context of existing research. Students were involved throughout the project, including inception, design, recruitment, analysis and dissemination. Results UK university students (N = 385) submitted 991 questions, categorised into seven themes: epidemiology, causes and risk factors, academic factors and work-life balance, sense of belonging, intervention and services, mental health literacy and consequences. Across themes, respondents highlighted the importance of understanding the experience of minority groups. Conclusions Students are interested in understanding the causes and consequences of poor mental health at university, across academic and social domains. They would like to improve staff and students' knowledge about mental health, and have access to evidence-based support. Future research should take a broad lens to evaluate interventions; considering how services are designed and delivered, and investigating institutional and behavioural barriers to accessibility, including how this varies across different groups within the student population.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere90
JournalBJPsych Open
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 10 May 2022


  • prevention
  • priority setting
  • qualitative research
  • Student mental health


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