Exploring the impact of mental health on student engagement


When considering student success and student engagement, it is impossible to ignore the impact of a student's mental health while completing their studies. The recent pandemic shone a light on the mental health challenges that are being faced across society, as these were exacerbated by remote working and learning. As we grappled with maintaining support services for mental health needs that were traditionally in-person, it is not surprising that students have been negatively affected. In our recent survey, 80% of EMEA respondents believe that COVID-19 has impacted their daily life and believe this has led to negative outcomes for students in engagement (75%), students falling behind (75%), academic progress (74%), and

work readiness (70%). 


At Instructure, we believe It is critical for education institutions to understand and prepare for what students believe they need to be successful and engaged. Student success can be defined in many ways, but whichever definition is used, both academics and students alike would agree that student success cannot simply be determined by grades and career readiness. While admins are more likely to cite “employability” as one of the most important factors in measuring student success, students are more likely to bring up “happiness”. Institutions must consider holistic development and endeavour to support students as they face mental and socio-economic challenges, better equipping them to survive the pressures of the working world. 


We have identified the top six factors that respondents felt increased student engagement across EMEA. Out of 1,920 respondents, we can see the percentage of educators, students and admins that identified the following factors:


  • 90% access to the internet
  • 90% psychological wellbeing
  • 87% access to learning resources
  • 87% access to technological devices
  • 84% safety in the home
  • 83% access to mental health resources

With Internet access and psychological wellbeing presenting as the most impactful socio-economic factors determining student success, institutions must address their equitable access and mental health support efforts. 


Globally, opinions vary on how well institutions are responding to mental well-being. North American respondents (43%) and Asia Pacific respondents (41%) are significantly more likely to think their institutions deal with mental health issues well compared to Latin American(35%) and European and Middle Eastern (32%) institutions. It is clear that globally there are huge improvements to be made, especially as we continue to increase our understanding of mental health issues and how they affect our day to day lives. 


Across Europe, the Middle East and Africa, institutions are primarily offering in-person

or virtual counselling to support student and professor mental health. This is provided alongside a  range of offerings that institutions have put in place to support staff and students’ mental health needs. Our respondents cited the following initiatives:


  • 39% in-person/virtual counseling
  • 32% campus wellbeing events 
  • 26% mentorship programs
  • 23% staff training
  • 20% mental health apps

As we learn to live with Covid-19 and make adaptations to teaching and learning, we must ensure that supporting the psychological wellbeing of students remains a top priority. 

Discover the range of insights from our 2021 State of Student Success and Engagement in Higher Education. Download the full report here.


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