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Strengthening the future workforce: mental health promotion and prevention for university students (SandersonKU18SF2).

Project Description

Background and Aims: Poor mental health is prevalent amongst university students in the UK. Effective individually focussed treatment and prevention strategies exist but there is little evidence on how to implement these at scale, or on how universities themselves can best respond effectively (organisational interventions) (Winzer et al., 2018). Student health care professionals are of particular interest given the known future occupational risk for poor mental health from work stress and trauma-related exposures. Key questions include: i) how, when and where do university students access existing supports; ii) what type of prevention and support strategies do students prefer and when is the optimal timing of delivery; iii) which organisational mental health strategies are effective in a university environment, and what are the potential benefits for both students and staff; iv) what are the most effective models for embedding mental health and wellbeing principles in curricula.

PhD objectives: These will be developed in consultation with the candidate and may include a focus on a particular student cohort(s) (e.g. nursing, paramedic science), and will address one or more of the evidence gaps noted above. Research may be predominately quantitative, qualitative, or mixed. Most questions will require a systematic review as the initial piece of work, and some of a candidate’s program may involve analysis of secondary data sources.

Supervision and training: The candidate will join the research group of the School of Health Sciences Chair in Applied Health Research, Professor Kristy Sanderson. The supervisory team will be multidisciplinary. A tailored training program in research and professional skills is available.

This project is suitable for candidates with experience/interest in mental health or public health research and a degree in psychology, education, public health, epidemiology, nursing, allied health, or other health-related discipline.

For more information on the supervisor for this project, please go here:

The type of programme: PHD

Project Start Date: 2018/19

Full-time or Part-time

- Entry Requirements: This project is suitable for someone with a good first degree (at least 2:1) in a related topic area, such as Psychology, public health, epidemiology, nursing, allied health, other health-related discipline

The standard minimum entry requirement is 2:1

Funding Notes

This PhD project is offered on a self-funding basis. It is open to applicants with funding or those applying to funding sources. Details of tuition fees can be found at View Website


Winzer R, Lindberg L, Guldbrandsson K, Sidorchuk A. (2018) Effects of mental health interventions for students in higher education are sustainable over time: a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. PeerJ 6:e4598

Clark L, Fida R, Skinner S, Murdoch J, Rees N, Williams J, Sanderson K (2018). The health, well-being and support interventions for UK ambulance service personnel: a systematic evidence map 1998-2018. PROSPERO 2018 CRD42018104659

Memish K, Martin A, Dawkins S, Bartlett L, Sanderson K (2017). Workplace mental health: an international review of guidelines. Preventive Medicine, 101:213-222

Houghton A-M & Anderson J. (2017) Embedding mental wellbeing in the curriculum: maximising success in higher education. York: Higher Education Academy

Bartlett L, Otahal P, Lovell P, Sanderson K (2016). Acceptability, feasibility and efficacy of a workplace mindfulness program for public sector employees: a pilot randomized controlled trial with informant-reports. Mindfulness, doi:10.1007/s12671-016-0643-4

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