Sujatha Balakrishna, Senior Lecturer and Writer

Ms. Sujatha Balakrishna is a senior lecturer, writer, online module leader, project paper supervisor, researcher, certified trainer, certified happiness coach and current PhD student in Management. Sujatha holds an MBA from Universiti Malaya (2007) and a BA (Hons) degree from Nilai College and Oxford Brookes University (2001). Sujatha has completed a one-year course in Certificate of Teaching in Higher Education from Oxford Brookes University. She has more than 16 years of teaching experience in higher education with the capability to handle big number of students. Sujatha has a great quality to connect and build rapport with diverse group of students including adult learners from almost 20 countries. Sujatha is also a writer who writes for various international educational magazines on topics such as Gen Z, higher education, sustainable education, and mental health. She has given keynote speech and guest lecture on various topics internationally. Sujatha has vast experience in teaching in the areas like organizational behaviour, interpersonal skills, professional development, management, and business ethics. Sujatha holds more than 7 professional memberships including Malaysian Institute of Management (MIM) and International Council for Education Research and Training (ICERT). Recently, she was awarded with Global Faculty Award and the Most Exemplary Educator and Researcher Award 2023.


In recent times, there has been huge attention given to the topic of mental health and well-being. The reason could be due to the increased stress levels, anxiety, and depression among individuals. These issues do exist in all industries, especially education. Children are also not exempt. When it comes to higher education, the issue of mental health does exist among both students and teachers. Education has become easier and yet stressful. According to Córdova et al. (2023), there is a high correlation between academic stress and mental health among college students. A recent study at a university also indicates that one-third of the campus community, including faculty, staff, and students, experiences symptoms consistent with depression, anxiety, and/or stress. The competitive and changing environment and culture in higher educational institutions have created a very stressful platform for both learners and educators to live in. One can cope with mental health issues if the sources of the problem can be identified and tried to rectify them successfully.

Factors that can contribute to poor mental health in higher education.

1) High Usage of Technology

There has been a very high usage of technology in the higher education system recently. The pandemic has introduced us to online classrooms and platforms for online meetings and submissions. The students hardly need the help of a lecturer to check their work or even provide them with the notes. With everything at their fingertips, thanks to ChatGPT and Google, there are fewer face-to-face consultations with students. According to Hasanein and Sobaih (2023), the integration of ChatGPT into higher education has the potential to reduce the reliance on faculty and ultimately diminish opportunities for interpersonal connections and human interaction. Working too long on a device without limits, will contribute to high stress levels for both the students and lecturers. Extended technology use can lead to physical health problems such as back pain, neck pain, and headaches, as well as mental health problems such as anxiety, depression, and social isolation. (Kinghorn, 2023)

2) No Social Life—Not Social Networking

The young students of today are too engrossed with their devices and live on social networking sites. Gluing themselves into this platform every day, no one seems to be interested in having an outing or outdoor social activity. The children prefer to look at their phones wherever they go and do not engage in any active social activities such as sports, networking, hiking, etc. It was found in a study that youth who spent the most time on their digital technology were statistically more likely to exhibit higher levels of internal problems, which include depression, anxiety, social anxiety, somatic complaints, and other concerns about 2 years later. (Gardner, 2023) Lack of physical activities can also contribute to a high stress level, as scientifically, we have to sweat our stress out every day. That is the reason why doctors always emphasize exercise. According to Mayo Clinic Staff (2022), physical activity may help bump up the production of your brain’s feel-good neurotransmitters, called endorphins. People who exercise regularly feel more energetic throughout the day, sleep better at night, have sharper memories, and feel more relaxed and positive about themselves and their lives. (Robinson et al., 2023)

3) Globalization: Working Odd/Long Hours

With easy access to everything online, many educators are getting wider opportunities to work with many universities and institutes around the world. This can also mean that they have to accommodate the time zone difference. A lecturer from India can be teaching a student from Korea or Africa, and they have to accommodate the time difference. The same goes for discussions, meetings, conferences, and trainings. A freelancer or part-timer can be working around the clock to accommodate many different work engagements around the world. Working without proper breaks and rest can contribute to high stress levels and poor mental health. Studies have found that breaks can reduce or prevent stress, help to maintain performance throughout the day, and reduce the need for a long recovery at the end of the day. A freelancer might have a night class after a full day of work and get exhausted as a consequence of failing to detach from work and take rest. (The Wellbeing Thesis, 2019)

4) Not Able to Cope with the New Tools

The educators in higher education do realize that the teaching and learning processes have changed. There are many tools introduced that can be applicable for both online and face-to-face classes. There are some educators who might have difficulties coping with the tools and technologies to be adopted in their classes. They might feel pressured and develop fear and anxiety about their ability to use the tools. They might feel threatened by the young educators as well as the students themselves, who are much more well versed in the latest educational technology and tools. These can cause educators to show resistance and develop a fear of failure. Some were afraid of appearing incompetent in front of students, while others feared that it would diminish their authority and expertise. (Laufer 2023).


  1. Córdova, P., Patricia Gasser Gordillo, Hernán Naranjo Mejía, La, I., Alberto Grajeda Chacón, & Alberto Sanjinés Unzueta. (2023). Academic stress as a predictor of mental health in university students. Cogent Education, 10(2).
  2. Gardner, C. (2023, March 21). Study Probes Connection Between Excessive Screen Media Activity and Mental Health Problems in Youth.
  3. Hasanein, A. M., & Sobaih, A. E. E. (2023). Drivers and Consequences of ChatGPT Use in Higher Education: Key Stakeholder Perspectives. European Journal of Investigation in Health, Psychology and Education, 13(11), 2599–2614.
  4. Kinghorn, K. (2023, June 27). The Impact of Heavy Technology Use on Mental Health. Therapy Utah.
  5. Laufer, M. (2023, April 1). Fear, loathing and ideology: Why academics resist edtech. University World News.
  6. Mayo Clinic Staff. (2022, August 3). Exercise and stress: Get Moving to Manage Stress. Mayo Clinic.
  7. Robinson, L., Segal, J., & Smith, M. (2023, February 28). The mental health benefits of exercise. Help Guide.
  8. The Wellbeing Thesis. (2019, September 5). The Importance of Taking Breaks. The Wellbeing Thesis.

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