A review of web-based support systems for students in higher education

Marietta Papadatou-Pastou (Lead / Corresponding author), Rhianna Goozee, Erika Payne, Alexia Barrable, Patapia Tzotzoli

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

10 Citations (Scopus)
209 Downloads (Pure)


Background: Recent evidence suggests that there is an increasing need for accessible and anonymous services to support higher education (HE) students suffering from psychological and/or academic difficulties. Such difficulties can lead to several negative outcomes, including poor academic performance, sub-optimal mental health, reduced study satisfaction, and dropout from study. Currently, universities in the UK lack financial resources and the on-campus mental health services traditionally offered to students are increasingly economically unsustainable. Compounded by the perceived stigma of using such services, mental health providers have been driven to address the escalating needs of students through online services. Methods: In this paper, we review online support systems identified through a literature search and a manual search of references in the identified papers. Further systems were identified through web searches, and systems still in development were identified by consultation with researchers in the field. We accessed systems online to extract relevant information, regarding the main difficulties addressed by the systems, the psychological techniques used and any relevant research evidence to support their effectiveness. Conclusion: A large number of web-based support systems have been developed to support mental health and wellbeing, although few specifically target HE students. Further research is necessary to establish the effectiveness of such interventions in providing a cost-effective alternative to face-to-face therapy, particularly in certain settings such as HE institutions.

Original languageEnglish
Article number59
Pages (from-to)1-20
Number of pages20
JournalInternational Journal of Mental Health Systems
Publication statusPublished - 25 Sep 2017


  • Higher education
  • Mental health
  • Online interventions
  • Online support
  • Students

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