University support, adjustment, and mental health in tertiary education students in Hong Kong

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaper

Abstract

Depression, anxiety and stress of moderate to severe levels were found in 21%, 41% and 27% of university students in Hong Kong respectively. The development of a screening tool for assessing adjustment difficulties among tertiary education students is helpful for counselling professionals in university. The Student Perception of University Support and Structure Scale (SPUSS), based on concepts articulated in Baumrind’s theory of parenting styles, to measure a supportive and structured college environment. The present study used exploratory and confirmatory factor analysis to examine whether the SPUSS’ structure is consistent with the typology of four parenting styles. Secondly, factor scores were used to test the hypothesis that a supportive and structured university environment would be associated with students’ psychological adjustment as indicated by measures of depression, anxiety, and stress. Participants were 773 tertiary education students aged 18 to 25 from three Hong Kong universities. The SPUSS shows a four-factor structure consistent with models of parenting styles; the factor scores have excellent psychometric properties; and the factors represent students’ views of the university environment as authoritative, authoritarian, permissive, or neglectful. This model is different from Yau’s three-factor data-driven model, which identified factors representing psychological, academic, and social adjustment. (2) This study provides evidence of predictive validity in that higher scores on the authoritative factor were related to the lower levels of anxiety, depression, and stress. Only about 2% of students in Hong Kong leave university without completing theirdegree program, compared to rates of between 20% and 40% in the US and the UK. This number suggests that students in Hong Kong enjoy their studies and life atuniversity. However, one large-scale mental health survey of 7915 first year HongKong university students suggested otherwise. Depression, anxiety and stress ofmoderate to severe levels were found in 21%, 41% and 27% of university studentsrespectively. The present study used exploratory and confirmatory factor analysis toexamine whether the SPUSS' structure is consistent with the typology of four parentingstyles. Secondly, factor scores were used to test the hypothesis that a supportive andstructured university environment would be associated with students' psychologicaladjustment as indicated by measures of depression, anxiety, and stress. Participants were 773 tertiary education students aged 18 to 25 from three Hong Kong Universities. The results indicated that (1) the SPUSS shows a four-factor structure consistent withmodels of parenting styles; the factor scores have excellent psychometric properties; and the factors represent students' views of the university environment as authoritative, authoritarian, permissive, or neglectful. This model is different from Yau et al.'s threefactordata-driven model, which identified factors representing psychological, academic, and social adjustment. (2) This study provides evidence of predictive validityin that higher scores on the authoritative factor were related to the lower levels ofanxiety, depression, and stress.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - May 2017

Citation

Leung, C. H. (2017, May). University support, adjustment, and mental health in tertiary education students in Hong Kong. Paper presented at the 2017 Prague International Academic Conference on Education & Social Sciences, Ibis Praha Old Town, Prague, Czechia.

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