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Psychological and lifestyle predictors of mental health in higher education: how healthy are our students?

Jonathan Catling (School of Psychology, University of Birmingham Edgbaston Campus, Birmingham, UK)
Maria Michail (Institute for Mental Health, University of Birmingham Edgbaston Campus, Birmingham, UK)
Noureen Lakhani (School of Psychology, University of Birmingham Edgbaston Campus, Birmingham, UK)
Rory Devine (School of Psychology, University of Birmingham Edgbaston Campus, Birmingham, UK)

The Journal of Mental Health Training, Education and Practice

ISSN: 1755-6228

Article publication date: 14 June 2022

Issue publication date: 20 September 2022

527

Abstract

Purpose

The continued increase in mental health problems in students in higher education is a global public health concern. This study aims to examine the predictors of mental health in the context of higher education, focusing on first-year female undergraduate students as a particularly vulnerable group.

Design/methodology/approach

Two hundred first-year female undergraduates from a UK Higher Education Institution took part in a quantitative survey. Participants completed a range of questionnaires assessing resilience, perceived stress, levels of depression, hope, general anxiety and levels of exercise.

Findings

Two significant individual predictors of depression were identified: perceived stress and resilience. A mediation analysis showed that resilience acted as mediator for the impact of stress on depression. Two significant individual predictors of anxiety were identified: stress and exercise. There were no significant mediators.

Originality/value

To the best of the authors’ knowledge, this is the first time a range of psychological and lifestyle predictors of mental health while exploring potential mediators have been investigated. From the findings, the authors suggest that psychoeducational interventions targeting resilience while also providing problem-solving strategies could augment internal resources and promote positive mental health in this particularly vulnerable group of young people.

Keywords

Acknowledgements

The authors would like to thank all of the participants for giving up their time for this study.

Citation

Catling, J., Michail, M., Lakhani, N. and Devine, R. (2022), "Psychological and lifestyle predictors of mental health in higher education: how healthy are our students?", The Journal of Mental Health Training, Education and Practice, Vol. 17 No. 6, pp. 562-571. https://doi.org/10.1108/JMHTEP-08-2021-0092

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2022, Emerald Publishing Limited

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