Suicidal behaviours and mental health disorders among students commencing college

Psychiatry Res. 2022 Jan:307:114314. doi: 10.1016/j.psychres.2021.114314. Epub 2021 Nov 27.


The increase in psychological disorders and suicidal behaviour in students is a reason for growing concern. Some may start university with pre-existing problems, while others develop problems during this time. It is important to evaluate mental health and wellbeing early, identifying those at risk. The aim of this study was to compare mental health problems and help-seeking behaviour between students in Northern Ireland (NI) and the Republic of Ireland (ROI). Whilst geographically proximate, the institutions span a cross-border region with distinct education and healthcare systems. First-year undergraduate students (n = 1828) were recruited in September 2019 as part of the World Mental Health International College Student Initiative. Suicidal behaviour, mental health and substance disorders were investigated using the World Mental Health- Composite International Diagnostic Interview. Prevalence of disorders was high, with more ROI students experiencing problems than NI students. Students were significantly more likely to experience mental health problems if they were female (p<0.001), non-heterosexual (p<0.0001), and over the age of 21 (p<0.0001). These findings show that many students are starting university with high levels of psychopathology and suicidal behaviour, highlighting the importance of early intervention which may need to be tailored to different student populations.

Keywords: Depression; Help-seeking; Student mental health; Suicidal behaviour.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Female
  • Humans
  • Mental Disorders* / epidemiology
  • Mental Disorders* / psychology
  • Mental Health
  • Students / psychology
  • Suicidal Ideation*
  • Universities