High-level social support helps improve postgraduate students’ mental health during Covid-19 pandemic static management

A team of researchers undertook a study of the mental health of postgraduate students during the Covid-19 pandemic static management. They determined that when the students received high-level social support, it lessened the stress, anxiety, and depression caused by the static management.

Their research findings are published in the journal Stress and Brain on Nov. 22, 2022.

Since the arrival of Covid-19 in December 2019, researchers have studied, not only the impact of the pandemic on people's physical health, but also its impacts on people's mental health. Studies have already been conducted focusing on the relationship between anxiety, depression, and stress in children, undergraduate students, the elderly, and the general population. However, scientists had not yet conducted studies focused on graduate students. Previous studies have shown that in general, postgraduate students have poorer mental health, compared to medical students and residents. So because of the Covid-19 pandemic, the research team viewed postgraduate students as an at-risk group that merited their study.

With the arrival of the first omicron variant strain in Shanghai in May 2022, many universities in the city went into static management, or campus enclosed management, for several months. The team focused their study on the postgraduate students at these universities impacted by the static management. Previous research showed that because of the static management, most people had moderate to high levels of stress. The team conducted an online survey to assess the level of social support, stress, anxiety, and depression the postgraduate students at several Shanghai universities experienced during the pandemic static management period. The 110 students in the study completed a series of online questionnaires related to current life stress and social support, a generalized anxiety disorder survey, and an overall student health survey.

The researchers noted that the changes in daily routines, such as variations in sleep, physical activity and diet, brought on by the static management, could lead to chronic stress. These factors contributed to a long-lasting poor quality of life for the students. Chronic stress has proven to be closely related to diseases such as burnout and depression. "Life stress in the background of the COVID-19 pandemic would lead to obvious symptoms of anxiety and depression," said Ti-Fei Yuan, Shanghai Jiao Tong University School of Medicine.

The team's results showed that the interaction between life stress and social support had a strong predictive effect on the level of anxiety. A high level of social support can ease the impact of life stress on anxiety levels.

The team also investigated the influence of the students' social support on the connection between life stress and depression. Their results showed that life stress and social support can be combined to predict depression level. A high level of social support can weaken the connection between life stress and depression. They noted that students with a higher level of social support had milder symptoms of anxiety and depression. These findings reveal the protective function of social support on a person's mental health.

From a practical standpoint, the team acknowledges that graduate students would benefit from enhanced social support. Universities could provide services that improve the social support for graduate students. "Universities should encourage more social activities to enable more available social support, which would help to alleviate the risk of anxiety and depression during the campus static management management period," said Yuan.

These results can help us better understand the relationship between graduate students' life stress, social support level, anxiety level, and depression level during the epidemic."

Yuanyuan Yin from Wenzhou Medical University School of Psychiatry

Looking ahead to future research, the team hope to conduct interviews to gain a deeper insight into the students' actual living situation, as well as their feelings and thoughts.

The research team includes Yuanyuan Yin from Wenzhou Medical University School of Psychiatry, and Xinyu Cheng, Ziqi Liu, and Ti-Fei Yuan from Shanghai Key Laboratory of Psychotic Disorders, Shanghai Mental Health Center, Shanghai Jiao Tong University School of Medicine, and Jianyin Qiu, Shanghai Mental Health Center, Shanghai Jiao Tong University School of Medicine.

Source:
Journal reference:

Yin, Y., et al. (2022) High-level Social Support Alleviates the Negative Effect of Life Stress on Postgraduate Students' Mental Health during Campus Enclosed Management of the COVID-19 Omicron Pandemic. Stress and Brain. doi.org/10.26599/SAB.2022.9060022.

Comments

  1. Malisha Kumat Malisha Kumat Canada says:

    The biggest impact on mental health is the global pandemic that we are still dealing with. Although it is important to know that everyone was affected by this, both mentally and physically, some individuals may have had a difficult time coping with their daily lives as usual. Stress had taken a toll on college and university students during the pandemic. Since university is already stressful, it is important for students to take care of their own mental health. Static management focuses on a high level of support for individuals who have been impacted by the pandemic and are in the need of mental health support. As the article mentions that there have not been studies focused on graduate students but rather, previous studies have shown that students who are currently in university completing their undergraduate degree have been known to show poor mental health. I think that social support among students is very important because as mentioned in this article, it “can weaken the connection between life stress and depression”. Depression in students can lead to a very low level of life dissatisfaction and they may become withdrawn from their daily life activities. As per the pandemic, many classes were online, and having remote classes gives less peer interaction which also leads to loneliness and depression. Now the question remains: How do we support the students during the pandemic? Since this article focuses on social support, I think there should be more resources provided for the students during the pandemic. Although, many students have been able to return to normal life practices, some students may show contributing factors to a poor-quality life due to depression, anxiety, and stress from school. Looking into the future for our students, I have learned to make changes to my own personal living situation and compromise during the pandemic and I think it is important to show that change within different resources that are accessible for students who are in need. There should be more awareness in universities when it comes to mental health and management activities to help elevate their moods and to lessen the risk of anxiety and depression during their undergraduate year.

  2. Malisha Kumar Malisha Kumar Canada says:

    The biggest impact on mental health is the global pandemic that we are still dealing with. Although it is important to know that everyone was affected by this, both mentally and physically, some individuals may have had a difficult time coping with their daily lives as usual. Stress had taken a toll on college and university students during the pandemic. Since university is already stressful, it is important for students to take care of their own mental health. Static management focuses on a high level of support for individuals who have been impacted by the pandemic and are in the need of mental health support. As the article mentions that there have not been studies focused on graduate students but rather, previous studies have shown that students who are currently in university completing their undergraduate degree have been known to show poor mental health. I think that social support among students is very important because as mentioned in this article, it “can weaken the connection between life stress and depression”. Depression in students can lead to a very low level of life dissatisfaction and they may become withdrawn from their daily life activities. As per the pandemic, many classes were online, and having remote classes gives less peer interaction which also leads to loneliness and depression. Now the question remains: How do we support the students during the pandemic? Since this article focuses on social support, I think there should be more resources provided for the students during the pandemic. Although, many students have been able to return to normal life practices, some students may show contributing factors to a poor-quality life due to depression, anxiety, and stress from school. Looking into the future for our students, I have learned to make changes to my own personal living situation and compromise during the pandemic and I think it is important to show that change within different resources that are accessible for students who are in need. There should be more awareness in universities when it comes to mental health and management activities to help elevate their moods and to lessen the risk of anxiety and depression during their undergraduate year.

  3. Malisha Kumar Malisha Kumar Canada says:

    The biggest impact on mental health is the global pandemic that we are still dealing with. Although it is important to know that everyone was affected by this, both mentally and physically, some individuals may have had a difficult time coping with their daily lives as usual. Stress had taken a toll on college and university students during the pandemic. Since university is already stressful, it is important for students to take care of their own mental health. Static management focuses on a high level of support for individuals who have been impacted by the pandemic and are in the need of mental health support. As the article mentions that there have not been studies focused on graduate students but rather, previous studies have shown that students who are currently in university completing their undergraduate degree have been known to show poor mental health. I think that social support among students is very important because as mentioned in this article, it “can weaken the connection between life stress and depression”. Depression in students can lead to a very low level of life dissatisfaction and they may become withdrawn from their daily life activities.
    As per the pandemic, many classes were online, and having remote classes gives less peer interaction which also leads to loneliness and depression. Now the question remains: How do we support the students during the pandemic? Since this article focuses on social support, I think there should be more resources provided for the students during the pandemic. Although, many students have been able to return to normal life practices, some students may show contributing factors to a poor-quality life due to depression, anxiety, and stress from school. Looking into the future for our students, I have learned to make changes to my own personal living situation and compromise during the pandemic and I think it is important to show that change within different resources that are accessible for students who are in need. There should be more awareness in universities when it comes to mental health and management activities to help elevate their moods and to lessen the risk of anxiety and depression during their undergraduate year.

The opinions expressed here are the views of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of News Medical.
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