Situating the Post-Secondary Instructor in a Supportive Role for the Mental Health and Well-Being of Students


Despite the increased consideration of student mental health and the ongoing efforts of bettering intervention systems, one aspect remains relatively underexplored: the role of the instructor. The purpose of this paper is to propose and discuss a (re)conceptualized understanding of the postsecondary instructor – as one who not only creates, delivers, and/or facilitates academic curriculum, but who can also support the well-being of students. Instructors can carry a central place in supplementing or facilitating a number of initiatives available in higher education settings to support the mental health of students, whether this entails recognizing a concern, rendering a type of support, or redirecting a student elsewhere for further intervention.ᅟ

This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.


  1. Anderson-Butcher, D. (2006). The role of the educator in early identification, referral, and linkage. In R. Waller (Ed.), Fostering child & adolescent mental health in the classroom (pp. 257–274). Thousand Oaks: Sage Publications.

    Google Scholar 

  2. Battalio, R., & Stephens, J. (2005). Social skills training: teacher practices and perceptions. Beyond Behaviour, 14(2), 15–20.

    Google Scholar 

  3. Canadian Alliance of Student Associations (2014). A roadmap for federal action on student mental health. Retrieved from,

  4. Canadian Association of College and University Student Services & Canadian Mental Health Association (2014). Post-secondary student mental health: guide to a systemic approach. Retrieved from,

  5. Canadian Mental Health Association (2014). A guide to college and university for students with psychiatric disabilities. Retrieved from,

  6. Cavalheiro, J., Morgan, J., & Witten, L. (2012, Fall). In the shadows. College Seasonal Magazine Publication, 8–10.

  7. Davidson, L., & Locke, J. (2010). Using a public health approach to address student mental health. In J. Kay & V. Schwartz (Eds.), Mental health care in the college community (pp. 267–288). West Sussex: John Wiley & Sons Ltd.

    Google Scholar 

  8. Eichler, R., & Schwartz, V. (2010). Essential services in college counselling. In J. Kay & V. Schwartz (Eds.), Mental health care in the college community (pp. 57–93). West Sussex: John Wiley & Sons Ltd.

    Google Scholar 

  9. Field, L., Elliot, M., & Korn, P. (2006). A successful community-based intervention for addressing college student depression. Journal of College Student Development, 47(4), 105–109.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  10. Frado, L. (1993). Learning diversity: accommodations in colleges and universities for students with mental illness. Toronto: Canadian Mental Health Association.

    Google Scholar 

  11. Froese-Germain, B., & Riel, R. (2012). Understanding teacher perspectives on student mental health: Findings from a national survey. Ottawa: Canadian Teachers Federation. Retrieved from,

    Google Scholar 

  12. Han, S., & Weiss, B. (2005). Sustainability of teacher implementation of school-based mental health programs. Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology, 33(6), 665–679.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  13. Hanlon, C. (2012, Summer). State of mind: addressing mental health issues on university campuses. University Magazine. Retrieved from,

  14. Kadison, R., & DiGeronimo, T. (2004). College of the overwhelmed: The campus mental health crisis and what to do about it. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

    Google Scholar 

  15. Kay, J. (2010). The rising prominence of college and university mental health issues. In J. Kay & V. Schwartz (Eds.), Mental health care in the college community (pp. 1–20). West Sussex: John Wiley & Sons Ltd.

    Google Scholar 

  16. Kitzrow, M. (2003). The mental health needs of today’s college students: challenges and recommendations. NASPA Journal, 41(1), 167–181.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  17. Klem, A., & Connell, J. (2004). Relationships matter: linking teacher support to student engagement and achievement. Journal of School Health, 74(7), 262–273.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  18. Lunau, K. (2012). Mental health: the broken generation. Maclean’s: Canada’s National Magazine, 125(35), 54–58.

    Google Scholar 

  19. MacKean, G. (2011). Mental health and well-being in post-secondary education settings. Retrieved from,

  20. Martin, J. M. (2010). Stigma and student mental health in higher education. Higher Education Research and Development, 29(3), 259–274.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  21. MindMatters (2010). About| whole-school approach. Retrieved from,

  22. Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities (2014). Improving mental health support for college and university students: ontario investing in postsecondary student well-being. Retrieved from,

  23. Ontario College Health Association (2009). Towards a comprehensive mental health strategy: the crucial role of colleges and universities as partners. Retrieved from,

  24. Paternite, C. (2004). Involving educators in school-based mental health programs. Advances in school-based mental health intervention: Best practices and program models (pp. 1–21). Kingston: Civic Research Institute.

    Google Scholar 

  25. Patton, G., Glover, S., Bond, L., Godfrey, C., Di Pietro, G., & Bowes, G. (2000). The gatehouse project: a systematic approach to mental health promotion in secondary schools. Australian and New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry, 34, 586–593.

    CAS  Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  26. Quinn, N., Wilson, A., MacIntyre, G., & Tinklin, T. (2009). ‘People look at you differently’: students’ experience of mental health support within higher education. British Journal of Guidance and Counselling, 37(4), 405–418.

  27. Roeser, R., & Midgley, C. (1997). Teachers’ views of issues involving students’ mental health. The Elementary School Journal, 98(2), 115–133.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  28. Schonert-Reichl, K., & Lawlor, M. (2010). The effects of a mindfulness-based education program on pre- and early adolescents’ well-being and social and emotional competence. Mindfulness, 1, 137–151.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  29. Sharp, W., Hargrove, D., Johnson, L., & Deal, W. (2006). Mental health education: an evaluation of a classroom based strategy to modify help seeking for mental health problems. Journal of College Student Development, 47(4), 419–438.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  30. Silverman, M., & Glick, R. (2010). Crisis and crisis intervention on college campuses. In J. Kay & V. Schwartz (Eds.), Mental health care in the college community (pp. 157–178). West Sussex: John Wiley & Sons Ltd.

    Google Scholar 

  31. University of Manitoba’s Campus Mental Health Strategy (2014). Success through wellness: enhancing the campus community to promote and support mental health and well-being. Retrieved from,

  32. Whitley, J., Smith, J. D., & Vaillancourt, T. (2012). Promoting mental health literacy among educators: critical in school-based prevention and intervention. Journal of School Psychology, 28(1), 56–70.

    Article  Google Scholar 

Download references

Author information



Corresponding author

Correspondence to Maria Lucia Di Placito-De Rango.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Di Placito-De Rango, M.L. Situating the Post-Secondary Instructor in a Supportive Role for the Mental Health and Well-Being of Students. Int J Ment Health Addiction 16, 284–290 (2018).

Download citation


  • Student mental health
  • Higher education
  • Instructors
  • Support practices