A Review of Psychological Distress Among University Students: Pervasiveness, Implications and Potential Points of Intervention

  • Jessica SharpEmail author
  • Stephen Theiler


A review of literature from the past 30 years establishes psychological distress as both a longstanding and current issue affecting university students worldwide. Poorer academic outcomes and problematic health behaviours are linked to students’ distress, and these wider implications also highlight the need for appropriate policies and services to support students during what is clearly a challenging time. Further review identified various socio-demographic, situational and academic factors as potential bases of students’ distress. Undoubtedly, the demands of the university lifestyle are inherently stressful; yet experiencing these as distressing is not inevitable. Rather, a review of links between university students’ psychological attributes and psychological distress indicates such attributes might be ideal points of intervention to ensure students are best equipped to manage the stressors of university, and greater attention in this area is recommended.


Psychological distress University students Mental health Higher education Academic 


Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Statistics, Data Science and EpidemiologySwinburne University of TechnologyHawthornAustralia
  2. 2.Swinburne Psychology Clinic, Department of Psychological SciencesSwinburne University of TechnologyHawthornAustralia

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