Socioeconomic Status, Social Integration, And Mental Health Among University Students

Year: 2015

Author: Rubin, Mark, Wilkinson, Ross

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

The link between low socioeconomic status (SES) and poor mental health has been well established. For example, a meta-analysis of 51 studies found that people with a higher SES are less likely to be depressed than people with a lower SES (Lorant, V., Deliège, D., Eaton, W., Robert, A., Philippot, P., & Ansseau, M. (2003). Socioeconomic inequalities in depression: A meta-analysis. American Journal of Epidemiology, 157, 98-112. doi: 10.1093/aje/kwf182). However, researchers have only recently begun to consider this relation within the specific context of university settings (e.g., Eisenberg, D., Gollust, S. E., Golberstein, E., & Hefner, J. L. (2007). Prevalence and correlates of depression, anxiety, and suicidality among university students. American Journal of Orthopsychiatry, 77, 534-542. doi: 10.1037/0002-9432.77.4.534). This presentation reports the results of a longitudinal research study that investigated the relation between university students’ social class and SES, their social integration at university, and their mental health. The study tested the idea that one of the reasons that low SES students suffer from poor mental health during their time at university is that they are less well integrated into university social life. Hence, it was predicted that students’ SES would positively predict their social integration at university, and students’ SES and social integration would positively predict their mental health and well-being. It was also expected that students’ social integration at university would mediate the relation between their SES and mental health. The research methodology involved an institution-wide survey at a large regional university. Students (N > 800) were sampled from a diverse range of degree programs, and they completed the survey at two time-points during Semester 1, 2015 and then again during Semester 2, 2015. The research results will be discussed in terms of their potential to inform policy-makers and administrators about potential methods of improving the mental health and well-being of low SES university students.