This study is the first, to our knowledge, to evaluate the relationship between mental
health and social support in a large, random sample of college students. A Web-based
survey was administered at a large, public university, with 1,378 students completing
the measures in this analysis (response rate = 57%). The results support our hypothesis
that students with characteristics differing from most other students, such as minority
race or ethnicity, international status, and low socioeconomic status, are at greater
risk of social isolation. In addition, the authors found that students with lower
quality social support, as measured by the Multidimensional Scale of Perceived Social
Support, were more likely to experience mental health problems, including a sixfold
risk of depressive symptoms relative to students with high quality social support.
These results may help administrators and health providers to identify more effectively
the population of students at high risk for mental illness and develop effective interventions
to address this significant and growing public health issue.
(c) 2009 APA, all rights reserved.