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Perception of Student Life as Promoting Mental Health and Well-Being. A Study of First-Year Students in a Norwegian University

Anne Skoglund1,*, Kari Bjerke Batt-Rawden1, Agneta Schröder1,2, Øyfrid Larsen Moen1

1 Norwegian University of Science and Technology, Gjøvik, 2802, Norway
2University Health Care Research Center, Faculty of Medicin and Health, Örebro University, Örebro, SE-701 85, Sweden

* Corresponding Author: Anne Skoglund. Email: email

International Journal of Mental Health Promotion 2021, 23(4), 487-497.


In Norway, 300,000 people attend higher education. Elsewhere in Europe, student numbers are also high. In Great Britain, 1.9 million people attended higher education in the academic year 2018–2019. This is a substantial part of the population, and the mental health and well-being of students are of prime importance. The first year as a university student is a transitional period characterized by significant changes and constitutes an essential fundament for students in their student life and later. An increasing number of students report having mental health problems to various degrees. Identifying the variety of perceptions of what may promote mental health and well-being is therefore of importance. This study aims to explore whether first year students in higher education perceive student life as promoting their mental health and well-being. Twenty students were interviewed (n = 20). Phenomenographic analysis was used to reveal variation in the students’ perceptions. Two descriptive categories were constructed, “The need to belong” and “The need for support,” with five conceptions: the importance of the sponsorship week, small groups as a place to belong, being patient, a supportive environment and the university as a facilitator. How a sense of belonging and a sense of support was achieved varied among the participants, and the solution for how to achieve this lies in the students themselves, the way the university organizes the programmes and how the students are met by the administration, lecturers and fellow students.


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Skoglund, A., Batt-Rawden, K. B., Schröder, A., Moen,

cc This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License , which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
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