The pathways in the formation of differences in college students’ mental health and its mechanisms

JIAO Kaishan1 YU Xiaohan1 JIN Miao1

(1.School of Ethnology and Sociology, Minzu University of China)

【Abstract】Using structural equation model, this paper examined the differences in mental health among college students from families with different socio-economic status, and the influencing pathways and mechanisms of family socio-economic status on college students’ mental health. According to the results, there were significant differences in the depression level of college students from families with different socio- economic status. Social capital and self-efficacy were two important mediating factors. This further confirmed that mental health status was the result of a combination of socio-economic factors and mental mechanisms. The prevention and intervention of college students’ depression should not only focus on the cognitive and psychological mechanism behind it, but also take into account the socio-economic status of college students’ family, social capital and other factors.

【Keywords】 college students; differences in mental health; depression; family socio-economic status;


Download this article


    [1]. ① The completely standardized path coefficient is equal to the correlation coefficient. [^Back]


    Bian, Y. Social Sciences in China (中国社会科学), (3) (2004).

    Ge, M., Yu, Y. & Xing, C. Journal of Chongqing Normal University (Natural Science) (重庆师范大学学报 (自然科学版)), (1) (2006).

    He, H. & Yang, Y. Chinese Journal of School Health (中国学校卫生), (1) (2015).

    Li, Y. Future and Development (未来与发展), (4) (2012).

    Liang, S. China Journal of Health Psychology (中国健康心理学杂志), (6) (2009).

    Lin, N. Social Capital—A Theory of Social Structure and Action. Shanghai: Shanghai Century Publishing Group, (2005).

    Qin, P. & Zhang, Y. China Journal of Health Psychology (中国健康心理学杂志), (6) (2009).

    Rao, Y., Zhang, H. & Li, X. Psychological Development and Education (心理发展与教育), (1) (2004).

    Shang, J. et al. Journal of Psychiatry (精神医学杂志), (5) (2011).

    Wang, J. & Fan, F. Chinese Mental Health Journal (中国心理卫生杂志), (5) (2002).

    Wei, S. Chinese Journal of Clinical Psychology (中国临床心理学杂志), (3) (2006).

    Wu, H. & Liao, Y. Journal of Ningbo University (Education Science) (宁波大学学报 (教育科学版)), (6) (2013).

    Wu, Y. Shanghai Archives of Psychiatry (上海精神医学), (6) (2007).

    Ye, J. Journal of Psychological Science (心理科学), (5) (2006).

    Yu, X., Li, Y. & Fu, H. Medicine and Society (学与社会), (5) (2007).

    Zhou, W. & Guo, G. Journal of Renmin University of China (中国人民大学学报), (1) (2006).

    Andersen, Ingelise, Karsten Thielen, Else Nygaard & Finn Diderichsen 2009, “Social Inequality in the Prevalence of Depressive Disorders.” Journal of Epidemiology and CommunityHealth 63 (7).

    Bandura, Albert 1994, Self-efficacy. Wiley Online Library.

    Bandura, Albert, Concetta Pastorelli, Claudio Barbaranelli & Gian Vittorio Caprara 1999, “Self-efficacy Pathways to Childhood Depression.” Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 76 (2).

    Bassett, Emma & Spencer Moore 2013. “Social Capital and Depressive Symptoms: The Association of Psychosocial and Network Dimensions of Social Capital with Depressive Symptoms in Montreal, Canada.” Social Science & Medicine 86.

    Bayram, Nuran & Nazan Bilgel 2008, “The Prevalence and Socio-demographic Correlations of Depression, Anxiety and pressure among a Group of University Students.” Social Psychiatry and Psychiatric Epidemiology 43 (8).

    Colarossi, Lisa G. & Jacquelynne S. Eccles 2003, “Differential Effects of Support Providers on Adolescents’ Mental Health.” Social Work Research 27 (1).

    De Silva, Mary J., Kwame McKenzie, Trudy Harpham & Sharon R. A. Huttly 2005, “Social Capital and Mental Illness: A Systematic Review.” Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health 59 (8).

    De Silva, Mary J., Sharon R. Huttly, Trudy Harpham & Michael G. Kenward 2007. “Social Capital and Mental Health: A Comparative Analysis of Four Low Income Countries.” Social Science & Medicine 64 (1).

    Franko, Debra L. et al. 2004, “Expanding Our Understanding of the Relationship between Negative Life Events and Depressive Symptoms in Black and White Adolescent Girls.” Psychological Medicine 34 (07).

    Goodman, Elizabeth 1999, “The Role of socio-economic Status Gradients in Explaining Differences in US Adolescents’ Health.” American Journal of Public Health 89 (10).

    Goodman, Elizabeth, Bin Huang, Terrance J. Wade & Robert S. Kahn 2003, “A Multilevel Analysis of the Relation of socio-economic Status to Adolescent Depressive Symptoms: Does School Context Matter?” The Journal of Pediatrics 143 (4).

    Graham, Christine A. & M. Ann Easterbrooks 2000, “School-aged Children’s Vulnerability to Depressive Symptomatology: The Role of Attachment Security, Maternal Depressive Symptomatology, and Economic Risk.” Development and Psychopathology 12 (02).

    Harpham, Trudy, Emma Grant & Carlos Rodriguez 2004, “Mental Health and Social Capital in Cali, Colombia.” Social Science & Medicine 58(11).

    Kazdin, Alan E. 1990, “Psychotherapy for Children and Adolescents.” Annual Review of Psychology 41 (1).

    Kubik, Martha Y. et al. 2003, “Prevalence and Correlates of Depressive Symptoms in Young Adolescents.” American Journal of Health Behavior 27 (5).

    Leech, Sharon L., Cynthia A. Larkby, Richard Day & Nancy L. Day 2006, “Predictors and Correlates of High Levels of Depression and Anxiety Symptoms among Children at Age 10.” Journal of the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry 45 (2).

    Lemstra, Mark et al. 2008, “A Systematic Review of Depressed Mood and Anxiety by SES in Youth Aged 10-15 Years.” Canadian Journal of Public Health / Revue Canadienne de Sante’e Publique.

    Lin, Nan, Ronald S. Simeone, Walter M. Ensel & Wen Kuo 1979, “Social Support, pressureful Life Events, and Illness: A Model and an Empirical Test.” Journal of Health and Social Behavior 20 (2).

    Lin, Nan & Walter M. Ensel 1989, “Life pressure and Health pressureors and Resources.” American Sociological Review 54 (3).

    Lorant, Vincent et al. 2003, “socio-economic Inequalities in Depression: A Meta-Analysis.” American Journal of Epidemiology 157 (2).

    McLeod, Jane D. Michael J. Shanahan 1993, “Poverty, Parenting, and Children’s Mental Health.” American Sociological Review 58 (3).

    McLoyd, Vonnie C. 1990, “The Impact of Economic Hardship on Black Families and Children: Psychological Distress, Parenting, and Socioemotional Development.” Child Development 61 (2).

    McLoyd, Vonnie C. 1998, “socio-economic Disadvantage and Child Development. American Psychologist 53 (2).

    Monroe, Scott M. & Anne D. Simons 1991, “Diathesis-pressure Theories in the Context of Life pressure Research: Implications for the Depressive Disorders.” Psychological Bulletin 110 (3).

    Muntaner, Carles, William W. Eaton, Richard Miech & Patricia O’Campo 2004, “socio-economic Position and Major Mental Disorders.” Epidemiologic Reviews 26 (1).

    Patton, G. C. et al. 2003, “Life Events and Early Onset Depression: Cause or Consequence?” Psychological Medicine 33 (07).

    Song, Yuqing et al. 2008, “Depression in College Depressive Symptoms and Personality Factors in Beijing and Hong Kong College Freshmen.” Comprehensive Psychiatry 49 (5).

    Timbremont, Benedikte & Caroline Braet 2004, “Cognitive Vulnerability in Remitted Depressed Children and Adolescents.” Behaviour Research and Therapy 42 (4).

    Twenge, Jean M. & Susan Nolen-Hoeksema 2002, “Age, Gender, Race, socio-economic Status, and Birth Cohort Difference on the Children’s Depression Inventory: A Meta-analysis.” Journal of Abnormal Psychology 111 (4).

    Walsh, Sophie D.,Stephen Z. Levine & Itzhak Levav 2012, “The Association between Depression and Parental Ethnic Affiliation and socio-economic Status: A 27-Year Longitudinal US Community Study.” Social Psychiatry and Psychiatric Epidemiology 47 (7).

    Wu, Qiaobing et al. 2010, “Understanding the Effect of Social Capital on the Depression of Urban Chinese Adolescents: An Integrative Framework.” American Journal of Community Psychology 45 (1–2).

This Article


CN: 11-3280/C

Vol , No. 06, Pages 21-30+91-92

November 2018


Article Outline


  • 1 Introduction
  • 2 Literature review and research hypotheses
  • 3 Data and analysis methods
  • 4 Research results
  • 5 Discussion and conclusions
  • Footnote