An intersectional approach to understanding common mental disorders and suicidality in minority university students

Lead Research Organisation: King's College London
Department Name: Psychological Medicine


There is increasing global concern about CMD and
suicidality(1,2). National and international research in young
adult populations estimate that common mental disorders
(CMD; symptoms of depression and anxiety) and suicidality
(i.e. suicidal ideation, suicide attempts, tiredness of life,
death wishes)(3) in early adulthood can adversely impact
current and future key life domains including poor academic
performance, unemployment and unstable employment,
substance misuse, poor quality of relationships and less
social interactions(4-7); all of which exacerbate mental
health problems. First onset of CMD usually occurs before
the age of 25(8), which is the typical university age in the UK
and there are currently approximately 2.3 million students
studying in UK higher education institutions (HEIs)(9).
Therefore, universities are in the best position to promote
positive mental health to a large number of young adults at
an important transitional period, to potentially reduce the
risk of the above mentioned adverse outcomes(10); which
will positively impact on the UK economy and wider society.
A lack of strong data in student mental health presents a
barrier to implementation of an evidence-based strategic
response to address public health concerns. Therefore, a
mixed-methods study will gather much needed data into the
experiences and mental health of university students,
especially those from minority backgrounds.
This study will ask students about their experiences studying
at UK HEIs and what and how their experiences at university
affects their mental health. This study will purposely
approach minority student populations who are often
marginalised and under-represented in research studies. A
national survey is planned to collect information about the
prevalence of CMD and suicidality in the student population
using questionnaires and open questions. Finally, culturally
sensitive resources for students struggling with their mental
health at university will be co-developed with students at
King's College London and the survey data. A sharedlearning conference will be hosted at the end of the study to
share findings, learning, best practices, and resources with
those who have an interest to improve student mental
This study will be conducted in collaboration with Student
Minds, a national student mental health charity in the UK.
Student Minds works to empower students and members of
the university community to develop the knowledge,
confidence and skills to look after their own mental health,
support others and create change.
The findings will be used to update UK student mental health
policies and procedures for HEIs and contribute to the
development of appropriate health promotion initiatives,
resources and interventions.

Studentship Projects

Project Reference Relationship Related To Start End Student Name
ES/P000703/1 30/09/2017 29/09/2027
2317430 Studentship ES/P000703/1 30/09/2019 06/03/2023 Nkasi Stoll