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What Do We Know About University Academics’ Mental Health? A Systematic Literature Review

Urbina Garcia, Angel


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Dr Angel Urbina Garcia
Director of Postgraduate Taught Programmes and Lecturer in Early Childhood


There has been a growing interest on the negative influence that the environment of higher education institutions has on the mental health of academics. The current climate of global education-competition, places extreme expectations on academics. A number of factors influence academics’ mental health, such as teaching, supervising, generating research income, among others, and there is evidence to suggest that the university environment is jeopardising academics’ physical and psychological health. This study sought to review the international literature with a view to ascertaining what the most commonly used measures are to investigate this topic, including the main stressors and coping strategies reported/used by academics and their lived experiences. A thorough review of the literature was conducted, and 28 studies were identified and critically analysed. The review concludes that there is compelling evidence that the university environment is triggering high levels of stress and burnout and low levels of wellbeing for academics. There is extremely limited research on the perceptions and lived experiences of academic staff. It is virtually unknown, what coping strategies academics use to face job demands, and our knowledge about burnout, seems to be limited by the use of one particular measure without cultural adaptations. Practical implications and directions for future research are proposed.


Urbina Garcia, A. (2020). What Do We Know About University Academics’ Mental Health? A Systematic Literature Review. Stress and Health, 36(5), 563-585.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date May 12, 2020
Online Publication Date May 14, 2020
Publication Date 2020
Deposit Date May 26, 2020
Publicly Available Date Oct 27, 2022
Journal Stress & Health
Print ISSN 1532-3005
Publisher Wiley
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 36
Issue 5
Pages 563-585
Keywords Academics’ mental health; Psychological wellbeing; Staff wellbeing; Stress; Systematic review
Public URL
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©2020 The author. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced without the written permission of the copyright holder

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