Relationship of Mental Health, Social Support, and Coping Styles among Graduate Students: Evidence from Chinese Universities

  • Pengju WANG Center of Systems and Industrial Engineering, Zhongyuan University of Technology, Zhengzhou, P.R. China
  • Zhuang XIONG School of Management, Wuhan University of Technology, Wuhan, P.R. China
  • Hua YANG Zhongyuan-Petersburg Aviation College, Zhongyuan University of Technology, Zhengzhou, P.R. China
Keywords: Graduate students, Mental health, Social support, Coping style


Background: The increasing number of graduate students in China has resulted in the wide concern for their mental health problems. The coping style and social support are important factors that affect the mental health of individuals. This study aims to explore the relationship of the mental health, social support, and coping style of graduate students.Methods: The sample consisted of 260 graduate students from three universities of China. The participants were evaluated using the Symptom Checklist-90 (SCL-90), Social Support Revalued Scale (SSRS), and Coping Style Questionnaire (CSQ) in October and November 2017. The data of the scale were analyzed with t-test, correlation, and multiple regression analysis.Results: The graduate students had lower scores than the national norm standard on all subscales, except for anxiety and phobic anxiety in the SCL-90. Graduate students’ mental health was significantly negatively correlated with social support, problem-solving, and help-seeking and significantly positively correlated with self-blame, fantasy, withdrawal, and rationalization. Coping style and social support affected the mental health of graduate students, in which the regression coefficients of the subscales of problem-solving, rationalization, self-blame, and fantasy were −0.168, 0.070, 0.125, and 0.113, respectively. The regression coefficients of the subscales of subjective and objective supports were −0.086 and −0.024, respectively.Conclusion: The positive coping style and social support improve the level of graduate students’ mental health through the gain effect and alleviate abnormal psychological symptoms. The conclusions of this study can provide a reference to improve the psychological intervention strategies for graduate students. 


National Bureau of Statistics of China (2017). China Statistical Yearbook —2016. China Statistics Press, Beijing.

Feng R, Zhang YT, Ma XT (2015). Analysis of re-search and progress in mental health education for graduate students in china in the past thirty years—based on review of CNKI literature be-tween 1983 and 2013. J Grad Educ, 1: 21-5.

Ando M (2002). Relationships among mental health, coping styles, and mood. Psychol Rep, 90(2): 606-12.

Lakey B, Orehek E (2011). Relational regulation theo-ry: A new approach to explain the link between perceived social support and mental health. Psychol Rev, 118(3): 482-95.

Wood AM, Joseph S, Linley PA (2007). Coping style as a psychological resource of grateful people. J Soc Clin Psychol, 26(9): 1076-93.

Coyne JC, Downey G (1991). Social factors and psy-chopathology: Stress, social support, and coping processes. Annu Rev Psychol, 42(1): 401-25.

Hyun JK, Quinn BC, Madon T, et al (2006). Gradu-ate student mental health: Needs assessment and utilization of counseling services. J Coll Student Dev, 47(3): 247-66.

Jiang S, Huang Q (2016). A cross-temporal meta-analysis of changes in Chinese postgraduates' mental health. J Nanjing Med Univ, 16(4):281-7.

Toews JA, Lockyer JM, Dobson DJ, et al (1993). Stress among residents, medical students, and graduate science (msc/phd) students. Acad Med, 68(10): S46-8.

Cahir N, Morris RD (1991). The psychology student stress questionnaire. J Clin Psychol, 47(3): 414-7.

Liu CY, An JB, Kang R, et al (2005). Analysis on the psychological health and personality test of gradu-ate students in Beijing. Chin J Behav Med Sci, 14(12):1121.

Lou CL, Lin LF, Yuan XX (2003). Evaluation and analysis of the mental health status of graduate students. Explor Educ Dev, 12: 78-80.

Li FY, Ma Y, Liu JW et al (2010). Survey of medical graduates' mental health. Northwest Med Educ, 18(2): 284-7.

Kontoangelos K, Tsiori S, Koundi K, et al (2015). Greek college students and psychopathology: new insights. Int J Env Res Pub He, 12(5): 4709-25.

Dyrbye LN, Thomas MR, Shanafelt TD (2005). Medical student distress: causes, consequences, and proposed solutions. Mayo Clin Proc, 80(12): 1613-22.

Mao FQ, Li ZT, Wang JH (2003). Psychosomatic symptom, personality factor and life event of graduate students. Chin Ment Health J, 17(10): 663-5.

Lu L (1994). University transition: Major and minor life stressors, personality characteristics and mental health. Psychol Med, 24(1): 81-7.

Feng R, Zhang Y (2017). A study on influential fac-tors to psychological anxiety of doctoral students at school based on grounded theory. J Grad Educ, 3: 41-6.

Huang W, Zhou W, Cheng QM (2006). Analysis on psychological health of college students in social support and dealing method. Chin J Public Health, 22(2): 139-40.

Xiang Y, Wang R, Jiang Y, et al (2016). Relationships among personality, coping style, and negative emotional response in earthquake survivors. Soc Behav Personal, 44(3): 499-507.

Hefner J, Eisenberg D (2009). Social support and mental health among college students. Am J Or-thopsychiat, 79(4): 491-9.

Strage AA (1998). Family context variables and the development of self-regulation in college students. Adolescence, 33(129): 17-32.

Muthiah K, Suja S (2017). A study on sense, feel, think, act, relate factors of experiential marketing in retailing. Transform Bus Econ, 16(1):85-99.

Jurma AM (2015). Impact of divorce and mother’s psychological well-being on children’s emotional, behavioral, and social competences. Rev Cercet Interv So, 48:69-82.

Xiao JH, Xu XF (1996). Study on validity and reliabil-ity of coping style questionnaire. Chin Ment Health J, 4:164-8.

Zhang M, Lei KC (2002). Development of the cop-ing style scale of undergraduates. Chin Ment Health J, 16(12): 834-7.

Xiao SY (1994). Theoretical basis and research appli-cation of the social support revalued scale [J]. J Clin Psychol Med, 2: 98-100.

Zhi FY (2012). On the features of psychological stress and its relationship with social comparison among ethnic minorities in southwest China. J Southwest Univ, 34(10): 150-6.

Li W (2008). Association studies of mental health and coping style in postgraduates of agriculture and Forestry University. J Clin Psychosom Dis, 14(4): 339-41.

How to Cite
WANG P, XIONG Z, YANG H. Relationship of Mental Health, Social Support, and Coping Styles among Graduate Students: Evidence from Chinese Universities. IJPH. 47(5):689-97.
Original Article(s)