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Department of Social Sciences

SUNMENTORS „Support for University Student Mental Health – Training for Teaching Staff“

01/01/2024 - 12/31/2025

Mental ill-health among students at higher education institutions is a growing challenge throughout Europe. Lecturers, on the other hand, are often not yet sufficiently sensitised to this issue or are simply overwhelmed by it in their already demanding day-to-day work. Yet they often play a key role for the students concerned in successfully completing their studies. With this in mind, SUNMENTORS aims to develop flexible training programmes for lecturers at universities and colleges in order to better support students experiencing mental health problems. In addition to the joint development of training modules, the participating European educational institutions will also engage in a fundamental dialogue on the design of inclusive learning environments with regard to mental health. Furthermore, all participating universities and colleges will be motivated to develop holistic institutional strategies for more inclusive learning environments with regard to the mental health of their students.

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Erasmus+ (“Cooperation Partnerships in Higher Education”)

Student mental health is an increasing problem in universities worldwide (WHO World Mental Health Surveys International College Student Project, 2018). According to a recent Germany-wide study by one of its biggest health insurances, Techniker Krankenkasse (TK Health Report 2023), the general state of health of students has also deteriorated significantly since 2015. While 84 per cent still rated their overall state of health as very good or good back then, only 61 per cent said the same in 2023. According to TK, the frequency of depression diagnoses among students in Germany alone had been increased by 14.7% between 2019 and 2021. Anxiety disorders had also been documented 15.9% more frequently in 2021 than in 2019.

University teaching staff are often not yet sufficiently sensitised to these developments, even though they play a key role in the successful completion of the studies.

Therefore, in addition to developing training modules, the SUNMENTORS project aims to promote a Europe-wide exchange on more inclusive learning environments with regard to mental health. The UK University Mental Health Charter is intended to provide a guiding framework (

The online training programme to be developed for lecturers will include the following content:

- Sensitisation to possible symptoms and (early) warning signs

- Recommendations for respectful communication

- Clarity about roles, responsibilities and boundaries

This training will be trialled and evaluated at the participating universities and colleges.

The dissemination and perpetuation of the project results will be ensured through structural anchoring at the participating educational institutions, nationwide multiplier events and free access to materials and tools.

The project starts with a transnational exchange on existing challenges and good practice models.

This will be followed by workshops with teaching staff and affected students to identify their specific needs and recommendations. On this basis, a curriculum and digital training modules will be developed, piloted and evaluated.