A scoping review to map the research on the mental health of students and graduates during their university-to-work transitions

David Matthew Edmonds*, Olga Zayts-Spence, Zoë Fortune, Angus Chan, Jason Shang Guan Chou

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

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Abstract

Objectives
This scoping review maps the extant literature on students’ and graduates’ mental health experiences throughout their university-to-work transitions. The current review investigates the methodological features of the studies, the main findings, and the theories that the studies draw on to conceptualise mental health and transitions.

Design
This project used a scoping review methodology created and developed by Peters and colleagues and the Joanna Briggs Institute. The review searched academic databases and screened existing studies that met predetermined inclusion criteria.

Data sources
Seven academic databases and Google Scholar were searched with sets of search terms.

Eligibility
The included studies examined participants who were final-year university students or those who had graduated from university within a 3-year period. Studies published in English since 2000 and from any country were included. The review included studies examining the negative dimensions of mental health. The review excluded studies focusing on medical students and graduates.

Data extraction
Basic information about the studies and their findings on mental health and university-to-work transitions was retrieved. The findings are presented in tables and in a qualitative thematic summary.

Results
The scoping review included 12 studies. Mental health was often not explicitly defined and it’s theoretical foundations were not clearly articulated. The review identified factors, including a lack of social support and economic precarity, as sources of adverse mental health. Other protective factors in these studies—variables that guard against mental health problems—were identified, such as career preparedness and having a good job.

Conclusions
Despite the methodological focus on the negative aspects of mental health, people’s mental health experiences during university-to-work transitions are not uniformly negative. Clear conceptualisations of mental health in future studies will aid in developing resources to improve well-being.

Trial registration number
This scoping review adhered to a protocol previously published in this journal and that is registered on the Open Science Framework website (https://osf.io/gw86x).
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere076729
JournalBMJ Open
Volume14
Issue number3
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 4 Mar 2024

Keywords

  • mental health
  • occupational stress
  • psychiatry

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Medicine

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