Potential Web- & Mobile-based Interventions for Promoting Mental Health & Preventing Mental Illness at University

Research Paper Title

Mental Health-Related Digital Use by University Students: A Systematic Review.


Mental health problems are common among students at university, representing a major public health concern.

The internet and new technologies are widely used by students and represent a significant resource to them for mental health information and support.

The aim of this systematic review is to summarise and critique studies of mental health-related digital use (including purposes, advantages, and barriers) by students worldwide, to support the implementation of future digital mental health interventions targeting university students.


The researches searched for peer-reviewed articles published between January 2008 and May 2018 by using Pubmed, Google Scholar, PsycINFO, PsycARTICLES, Psychology and Behavioural Sciences Collection, and SocINDEX. Studies were coded by author, year of publication, country, research design, recruitment and sampling, data collection, analysis method, key findings, and mean quality score.

Outcomes were synthetised through the textual narrative synthesis method.


Of the 1,487 titles and abstracts screened, 24 articles were critically reviewed. Sample sizes ranged from 19 to 6,034 participants.

The two key findings were that students worldwide have a high need for mental health information and are prepared to use digital tools for their mental health and well-being.

However, they are currently struggling to discern trustworthy information online and are expressing a desire for reliable devices handling their sensitive data.


Through the description of patterns in university students’ mental health-related digital use, this review outlines important features for potential web- and mobile-based interventions for promoting mental health and preventing mental illness at the university.


Montagni, I., Tzourio, C., Cousin, T., Sagara, J.A., Bada-Alonzi, J. & Hogan, A. (2020) Mental Health-Related Digital Use by University Students: A Systematic Review. Telemedicine Journal and e-Health. 26(2), pp.131-146. doi: 10.1089/tmj.2018.0316. Epub 2019 Mar 19.