, Volume 13, Issue 1, pp 161-170

Perceived stress, internal resources, and social support as determinants of mental health among young adults

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Background: Mental health is a central determinant of quality of life. While psychiatric morbidity of populations has been studied extensively, the role of perceived stress, social support, and internal resources as determinant of health is still poorly understood. Methods: We surveyed 2000 randomly selected university students. Perceived stress was measured by the Brief Encounter Psychosocial Instrument, social support by the Duke-UNC Functional Social Support Questionnaire, internal resources (mastery and self-esteem) by a brief version of the Pearlin coping questionnaire. Linear regression models were used to explore the relationships between these variables and mental health, based on the SF-12 health survey. Results: After two reminders, 1257 students answered the questionnaire. In bivariate analysis, mental health was negatively associated with stress and positively associated with internal resources and social support (all p-values < 0.001). In multiple regression analysis, internal resources were positively associated with mental health, and buffered the negative impact of stress on mental health. Internal resources and stress mediated the positive impact of social support on mental health. Conclusions: Our data confirm that perceived stress is an important risk factor for low mental health and suggest that mastery and self-esteem are important protective factors of mental health among young adults.