In this article, we point to mental health as a new sorting mechanism in higher education (HE), working through categories informed by psychological and psychiatric knowledge, which currently permeate the field of education. The significant increase in young people, for example students in HE, with mental health problems such as stress, anxiety and depression seems to be a general development in Western countries over the past decade. The focus on mental health sets in motion a broad range of wellbeing discussions and initiatives in terms of mental illness and/or psychiatric diagnoses, rather than in terms of learning, pedagogy or participation and inequalities in education. This directs attention to particular kinds of students rather than to educational relations, cultures and contexts. Against this background, we set out to discuss how certain categorisations and understandings of students’ wellbeing and everyday problems, inspired by the psy-sciences, intertwine with neoliberal traits in educational institutions, and come to mediate students’ emotional experience of and coping with psychosocial problems and their participation in HE.
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