Mapping mental health and the UK university sector: Networks, markets, data

Dimitra Kotouza, Felicity Callard, Philip Garnett, Leon Rocha

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The mental health and well-being of university staff and students in the UK are reported to have seriously deteriorated. Rather than taking this ‘mental health crisis’ at face value, we carry out network and discourse analyses to investigate the policy assemblages (comprising social actors, institutions, technologies, knowledges and discourses) through which the ‘crisis' is addressed. Our analysis shows how knowledges from positive psychology and behavioural economics, disciplinary techniques driven by metrics and data analytics, and growing markets in digital therapeutic technologies work as an ensemble. Together, they instrumentalise mental health, creating motivational ecologies that allow economic agendas to seep through to subjects who are encouraged to monitor and rehabilitate themselves. Mental health’ as a problem for UK universities has come to be largely defined through the outcomes of ‘resilience’ and ‘employability’ and is addressed through markets that enable training, monitoring, measuring and ‘nudging’ students and staff towards these outcomes.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)365-387
JournalCritical Social Policy
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 16 Aug 2021

Bibliographical note

© The Author(s) 2021

Cite this