Social Support As an Explanatory Mechanism of the Relationship Between Social Class and Mental Health in University Students: A Structural Mediation Model
Mollie McDonald ,
University of Nevada, Reno, US
Georgia State University, US
California State University, Sacramento, US
In addition to the challenges associated with economic adversity, college students of low socioeconomic status or self-identified social class are at higher risk of experiencing social isolation and mental health difficulties which can impede their academic success. Identifying modifiable protective factors can inform the development of interventions to improve the mental health of at-risk students. The present study examined social support as a potential explanatory mechanism. University students (N = 211) completed an assessment battery including various measures of social class, social support, and mental health. Three factors were identified, and structural equation modeling was employed to examine Supportive Social Environment (i.e., higher levels of general social support and social capital from peers and teachers) as a mediator of the relationship between Social Class Alienation (i.e., lower subjective social status and greater anticipated class-based rejection) and Mental Health Difficulties (i.e., greater levels of psychological symptoms and lower perceived ability to cope with emotions). The indirect effect was significant, and a comparison between a mediated model and an unmediated model indicated that Supportive Social Environment fully mediated the observed positive relationship between Social Class Alienation and Mental Health Difficulties. Results suggest that lower perceived social support (including from peers and teachers) contributes to the psychological struggles experienced by college students who self-identify as being of lower socioeconomic status. These findings have significant implications for programs developed to support students experiencing economic adversity by highlighting the importance of going beyond practical supports to better engage students socially.
How to Cite:
McDonald, M., Cordova, J. and Meyers, L., 2022. Social Support As an Explanatory Mechanism of the Relationship Between Social Class and Mental Health in University Students: A Structural Mediation Model. Journal of Social Inclusion, 13(2), p.None.
22 Dec 2022.