Much research on the health and well-being of third level students is focused on poor mental health leading to a dearth of information on positive mental health and well-being. Recently, the Warwick Edinburgh Mental Well-being scale (WEMWBS) was developed as a measurement of positive mental health and well-being. The aim of this research is to investigate the distribution and determinants of positive mental health and well-being in a large, broadly representative sample of third level students using WEMWBS.
Undergraduate students from one large third level institution were sampled using probability proportional to size sampling. Questionnaires were distributed to students attending lectures in the randomly selected degrees. A total of 2,332 self-completed questionnaires were obtained, yielding a response rate of 51% based on students registered to relevant modules and 84% based on attendance. One-way ANOVAs and multivariate logistic regression were utilised to investigate factors associated with positive mental health and well-being.
The sample was predominantly female (62.66%), in first year (46.9%) and living in their parentsí house (42.4%) or in a rented house or flat (40.8%). In multivariate analysis adjusted for age and stratified by gender, no significant differences in WEMWBS score were observed by area of study, alcohol, smoking or drug use. WEMWBS scores were higher among male students with low levels of physical activity (p=0.04). Men and women reporting one or more sexual partners (p<0.001) were also more likely to report above average mental health and well-being.
This is the first study to examine positive mental health and well-being scores in a third level student sample using WEMWBS. The findings suggest that students with a relatively adverse health and lifestyle profile have higher than average mental health and well-being. To confirm these results, this work needs to be replicated across other third level institutions.