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

A research team conducted a study on the mental health of graduate students during the static management of the Covid-19 pandemic. They determined that students’ high level of social support reduces stress, anxiety and depression caused by static management.

Research findings published in the journal Stress and the Brain On November 22, 2022.

Since the emergence of Covid-19 in December 2019, researchers have studied not only the impact of the epidemic on people’s physical health, but also its effects on people’s mental health. Research has already been done focusing on the relationship between anxiety, depression, and stress in children, undergraduates, the elderly, and the general population. However, scientists had not yet done studies for graduate students. Previous studies have shown that overall, graduate students have poorer mental health compared to medical students and residents. Therefore, the research team saw graduate students as an at-risk group that deserves their studies due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

With the arrival of the first type of omicron variant in Shanghai in May 2022, many universities in the city have switched to static administration or campus-enclosed administration for a few months. The team focused their work on graduate students affected by the static management at these universities. Previous research has shown that most people have moderate to high levels of stress due to static management. The team conducted an online survey to assess the levels of social support, stress, anxiety and depression experienced by graduate students at various Shanghai universities during the static management period of the pandemic. 110 students in the study completed a series of online questionnaires regarding current life stress and social support, a generalized anxiety disorder questionnaire, and a general student health questionnaire.

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The researchers noted that changes in daily routines brought on by static management, such as changes in sleep, physical activity, and diet, can lead to chronic stress. These factors contributed to the long-term poor quality of life for students. It has been proven that chronic stress is closely related to diseases such as burnout and depression. “The stress of life in the background of the COVID-19 epidemic will lead to pronounced symptoms of anxiety and depression,” said Ti-Fei Yuan from Shanghai Jiao Tong University School of Medicine.

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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 reduce the impact of life stress on anxiety levels.

The team also investigated the impact of students’ social support on the link between life stress and depression. Their results showed that life stress and social support could be combined to predict the level of depression. High levels of social support can weaken the link between life stress and depression. They stated that students with higher levels of social support had milder symptoms of anxiety and depression. These findings reveal the protective function of social support on an individual’s mental health.

From a practical standpoint, the team recognizes that graduate students will benefit from enhanced social support. Universities can offer services that improve social support to their graduate students. “Universities should encourage more social activities to provide more social support to help alleviate the risk of anxiety and depression during the campus static management period,” Yuan said.

These results may help us better understand the relationship between graduate students’ life stress, level of social support, level of anxiety and depression during the epidemic.”

Yuanyuan Yin from Wenzhou Medical University School of Psychiatry

Looking at future research, the team hopes to engage in interviews to gain a deeper insight into real-life situations as well as students’ feelings and thoughts.

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


Tsinghua University Press

Journal reference:

Yin, Y., et al. (2022) High-Level Social Support Mitigates the Adverse Impact of Life Stress on Graduate Students’ Mental Health During Campus Closed Management of the COVID-19 Omicron Pandemic. Stress and the Brain. doi.org/10.26599/SAB.2022.9060022.


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