Toward the health promoting university: enhancing the student experience and academic outcomes project

Project Details

There has been recent focus on the mental health problems of young people in university and the impact on the student experience and academic outcomes. To date, relatively little work has occurred in Australia, with only a few recent studies investigating the pressures on international students studying in a new country and general psychosocial stressors for university students. No significant work has particularly examined the health and wellbeing and academic performance of Australian university students. We have conducted a systematic examination of the biopsychosocial determinants of health in our university population and their relationship with mental health outcomes and academic performance. This study will establish optimal points for future health promoting interventions and add to the evidence base worldwide for the issues faced by young people during this period of life. For all analyses we have compared local to international student populations. Domains explored include:

  • prevalence of health and mental health issues
  • incidence of risk-taking behaviours
  • academic and life stressors
  • exposure of students to fear, violence and abuse
  • awareness of and access to care


Professor Lena Sanci - Head of Department

Dr Ann-Maree Duncan - Research Administrative Support Officer

Dr Divya Peter - Research Fellow in Young People’s Health

Dr Ian Williams - Research Fellow In Adolescent Health

A/Prof Patty Chondros - Biostatitician In Primary Care

A/Prof Laura Tarzia - Senior Research Fellow in Domestic Violence Research

Madeleine Lim - PhD Candidate


A/Prof Harry Minas - Melbourne School of Population and Global Health Global and Cultural Mental Health Unit

A/Prof Melissa Russell - Associate Professor In Epidemiology, Melbourne School of Population and Global Health

Research Publications

Sanci, L., Williams, I., Russell, M., Chondros, P., Duncan, A.-M., Tarzia, L., Peter, D., Lim, M. S. Y., Tomyn, A., & Minas, H. (2022). Towards a health promoting university: descriptive findings on health, wellbeing and academic performance amongst university students in Australia. Bmc Public Health, 22(1), 2430-2430. doi:10.1186/s12889-022-14690-9

Ke, T., Li, W., Sanci, L., Reavley, N., Williams, I., & Russell, M. A. (2023). The mental health of international university students from China during the COVID-19 pandemic and the protective effect of social support: A longitudinal study. Journal of Affective Disorders, 328, 13-21. doi:10.1016/j.jad.2023.02.014

Russell, M. A., Reavley, N., Williams, I., Li, W. J., Tarzia, L., Chondros, P., & Sanci, L. (2023). Changes in mental health across the COVID-19 pandemic for local and international university students in Australia: a cohort study. BMC Psychology, 11(1). doi:10.1186/s40359-023-01075-9

Research Group

Children and Young People’s Health

Faculty Research Themes

Child Health

Key Contact

For further information about this research, please contact the research group leader.

Department / Centre

General Practice and Primary Care

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