Post-Secondary Student Mental Health and Well-being: A Systems and Intersectionality-Informed Approach
Khanlou, N. (2019). Post-secondary student mental health and well-being: A systems and intersectionality-informed approach. International Journal of Mental Health and Addiction. Retrieved from https://doi.org/10.1007/s11469-019-00105-1
This is the editorial for an issue of the International Journal of Mental Health and Addiction focused on post-secondary student mental health.
How do we bring together what we are learning from across research teams, institution-specific strategies, national initiatives, and post-secondary students themselves on post-secondary student mental health and wellbeing? As scholars, we can become immersed in our silos of research and intention by focusing on individual-level factors or structural-level interpretations. However, in real life, each student’s individual lived experience matters, as do the changing socio-economic environments affecting their post-graduation opportunities and their current economic barriers and related health disparities. A systems perspective that recognizes the micro-level individual lived experiences and understands these within the context of students’ meso-level influences (such as families, academic institutions, immediate communities), and macro-level trends (such as changing national socio-economic gradients, migration and growing diversities, racism, climate change, and digital literacy) can help provide a holistic and action-oriented perspective. Yet to arrive at equitable and anti-oppressive inter-sectoral and student-centered policies, strategies, and mental health–promoting actions, an intersectionality-informed understanding (Rosenthal 2016) is also needed. This lens helps in foregrounding student identities in the complex web of power (or lack of) and context as post-secondary students, during a transitional phase of life to which they (and their families) have committed significant resources.