Student Mental Health in Higher Education: Discourse on Reddit Reveals Contributing Factors and Solutions

This study examined student narratives of mental health problems in higher education from the open forum Reddit after two student suicides at a large, competitive university in Canada. Student narratives including personal struggles and perceptions about mental health were extracted from an open, public subreddit page. A total of fourteen threads with 994 unique anonymous users were selected for analysis. Qualitative data was analyzed by three coders using grounded theory. Multiple themes related to suicide and student mental health problems, programs, resources, and solutions emerged. Factors contributing to mental illness and barriers to mental health support were also identified. Online forums such as Reddit are popular sites for sharing personal experiences, perceptions, and advice regarding mental health, well-being, and suicide. The rich narratives can be used by university officials and practitioners when developing and implementing mental health services on higher education campuses. Implications are provided.