Mental health on university campus

The objectives of this pioneering project are threefold: to create an international consortium (Latin America, the United States and Europe); to promote new and multidisciplinary research (information and communication, law, psychology); and to address an understudied issue in the social and human sciences  ("Mental Health on University Campuses") and the population it affects (students and university staff - administrative and teaching).

This multifaceted, multidimensional and multi-sectoral issue requires a multidisciplinary approach to understand its complexity. Thus, this project proposes an efficient and culturally adapted response, based on interdisciplinary and intersectoral management.

The research will be supported by work carried out on university campuses in Toulouse, in collaboration with local agencies (SIMPPS, CHGM, ...) and on the campuses of the partner universities to respond to very current economic, societal and cultural questions related to mental health in universities, which is recognized as a priority by public and international experts.


Importance of the subject

At university, having good mental health is a resource for successful studies, working in good conditions and protecting a perception of well-being. Poor mental health directly influences the daily life of students and university staff (teaching and administrative), affecting their ability to study, work and have a satisfactory social life.

Today, the number of students and university staff with mental health needs and problems is increasing steadily. The stakes are commensurate with the suffering and troubles present in the university population. Universities face major challenges in understanding these issues in order to advance their care on university campuses [ii].

The major concern is that, without treatment (upstream and downstream), these situations can promote academic failure, allow the appearance of severe mental pathologies (depression, anxiety, attention deficit disorders, burn-out, suicide attempts, etc.) and be the source of risky behavior (consumption of alcohol and drugs or medication, etc.). Concerning university staff, the importance of taking psychosocial risks into account is of increasing concern to public policies …

Despite this observation, we identify either absences or serious difficulties linked to the implementation of information policies and strategies on the subject, communication, prevention, training, health promotion and health promotion actions. ‘social inclusion.

Pluridisciplinary approach

According to the Report of the Strategic Analysis Council on Mental Health, but also according to the WHO Global Action Plan for Mental Health 2013-2020, this thematic area requires its multifactorial, multidimensional and multisectoral genesis [iii] , a multidisciplinary approach in order to understand the complexity of this problem. The stakes are commensurate with the suffering and troubles present in the university population.

This thematic aims to establish a reflection around mental health strategies which can be useful for raising awareness, understanding and advancing policies and actions aimed at prevention, communication, promotion, information and the fight against discrimination and Stigma. In this context, this complex reality deserves reflection on several levels.

The triangular relationship between InfoCom, Psychology and Law will make it possible to understand the problems linked to: prevention-promotion of mental health, fight against isolation, public policies to reduce discrimination-stigmatization (of suffering and the suffering person), social inclusion, respect for rights and freedoms, prevention of psychosocial risks in the public service, access to higher education and successful completion of higher education.

Under this approach, InfoCom finds its place through: communication for health, communication of organizations, engaging communication, health information, communication of change in organizations, the use of new communicative strategies, communication for social change and the study of representations and perceptions.

Besides the respect of fundamental rights and access to healthcare, the place of the Law is explained by the fact that the difficulties encountered in exercising these rights quite simply harm mental health. On the one hand, mental suffering has an impact on the rights of university students and university administrative and teaching staff, and on the other, violations of their rights also threaten their health.

In fact, not being able to exercise a certain number of rights and not being able to maintain them when they are threatened (attending studies, maintaining a job, accommodation, a residence permit, food …) inevitably has repercussions on their health and their citizenship.

Psychology will help to understand the processes at work in the emergence, maintenance or recurrence of classical and contemporary forms of expression of mental suffering within the university. Psychology gives way to an understanding of the psychological processes and factors at play when the student or the staff of the university (administrative or teaching) is confronted with an evolution of their health and this in order to set up actions of inclusion and prevention and health promotion programs.

This multidisciplinary approach focused on the humanities and social sciences will encourage unprecedented exploration and the development of programs and campaigns (targeting students and university staff) for training, interventions, prevention, promotion, and sometimes multidisciplinary, individual communication. or collective, intersectoral or not, in order to maintain, restore or reinforce the perception of the quality of life of students and university staff, taking into account the cultural and intercultural vector.


[i] Romeo, R., McCrone, P., & Thornicroft, G. (2017). The Economic Impact of Mental Health Stigma. In Mental Health Economics (pp. 401-414); and Springer, Cham; Clement, S., Schauman, O., Graham, T., Maggioni, F., Evans-Lacko, S., Bezborodovs, N.,… & Thornicroft, G. (2015). What is the impact of mental health-related stigma on help-seeking? A systematic review of quantitative and qualitative studies. Psychological medicine, 45 (1), 11-27.

[ii] Michaels, P. J. & Corrigan, P. W. & Kanodia, N. & Buchholz, B. & Abelson, S. (2015). Mental Health Priorities: Stigma Elimination and Community Advocacy in College Settings. Journal of College Student Development 56 (8), 872-875 and Corrigan, PW, Kosyluk, KA, Markowitz, F., Brown, RL, Conlon, B., Rees, J.,… & Al-Khouja, M. ( 2016). Mental illness stigma and disclosure in college students. Journal of Mental Health, 25 (3), 224-230.


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