Levels of mental illness, mental distress and low wellbeing among students in higher education in the UK are increasing, and are high relative to other sections of the population ... The higher education sector and government both have an interest in helping to improve the mental health and wellbeing of students. Universities should make the issue a strategic priority and adopt a ‘whole-university’ approach based on prevention and promotion, early intervention and low-level support, responding to risk and crisis management, and referral into specialist care. There is currently too much variation in the extent to which universities are equipped to meet this challenge. This sector-led approach should be complemented by strengthened NHS provision and new government initiatives to ensure that no student is held back by their mental health.