RESEARCH

Mental health and self-esteem correlated with the academic achievements of youths from Sri Lankan schools

 Sănătatea mintală şi stima de sine corelate cu performanţele academice ale tinerilor din învăţământul din Sri Lanka

First published: 30 iunie 2023

Editorial Group: MEDICHUB MEDIA

DOI: 10.26416/Psih.73.2.2023.8257

Abstract

Objectives. This research investigation was done to study the relationship between mental health and self-esteem with academic achievement among Sri Lankan youths. 
Method. The sample for this study was selected using purposive sampling from educational institutions of Ampara District, Sri Lanka. The total number of samples was 516.  The age range of the participants in this study was from 16 to 24 years old (mean age: 19.2 years old). Standard tools were used for data processing, such as the Mental Health Scale developed by Kamlesh Sharma and the Rosenberg’s Self-Esteem Scale. Further, academic achievement was measured using secondary data, such as semester marks list of youth from schools, colleges and universities. The personnel information plan created by the researcher was used to collect information along with relevant demographic and social data. The pretested questionnaire was reliable, being validated before the final data collection. The data analysis method was developed in this study. The informants were contacted individually by the investigator, and the data were obtained through questionnaires. Data retention is limited to a period of three months. 
Results. A statistical analysis, using the t-test, ANOVA, correlations and regressions, was performed. The result revealed that, out of eight demographic variables in this study, five variables (i.e., age, locality, father’s education, parent’s income and type of family) were in a significant correlation with mental health of youths and, also, only two variables (i.e., locality and type of family) were in significant correlation with the self-esteem of the youths. Further results revealed that, out of eight demographic variables in this study, seven variables (i.e., age, gender, locality, father’s education, mother’s education, parent’s income and type of family) had a significant correlation with the academic achievement of youths. 
Conclusions. The results indicated that there is a significant positive relationship between mental health and self-esteem with the academic achievements of youths.

Keywords
mental health, self-esteem, academic achievement, Sri Lanka

Rezumat

Obiective. Această cercetare investigaţională a fost efectuată pentru a studia relaţia dintre sănătatea mintală şi stima de sine cu performanţa academică în rândul tinerilor din Sri Lanka. 
Metodă. Eşantionul pentru acest studiu a fost selectat prin eşantionare intenţionată, în cadrul instituţiilor de învăţământ din Districtul Ampara, Sri Lanka. Numărul total de tineri incluşi în studiu a fost de 516. Intervalul de vârstă al participanţilor a fost cuprins între 16 şi 24 de ani (vârsta medie: 19,2 ani). Au fost utilizate instrumente standardizate pentru prelucrarea datelor, cum ar fi Scala de evaluare a sănătăţii mintale dezvoltată de Kamlesh Sharma şi Scala de autoevaluare a stimei de sine a lui Rosenberg. Performanţa academică a fost măsurată utilizând date secundare, precum listele de note pe semestre ale tinerilor din şcoli, colegii sau universităţi. Planul de informaţii creat de cercetător a fost utilizat pentru colectarea informaţiilor şi a datelor demografice şi sociale relevante. Chestionarul pretestat a fost fiabil, fiind validat înainte de colectarea finală a datelor. În cadrul acestui studiu, am dezvoltat şi metoda de analiză a datelor. Participanţii au fost contactaţi individual de investigator, iar datele au fost obţinute prin intermediul chestionarelor. Păstrarea datelor este limitată la o perioadă de trei luni. 
Rezultate. S-a efectuat analiza statistică, utilizând testul t, ANOVA, corelaţii şi regresii. Rezultatele au arătat că, din cele opt variabile demografice din acest studiu, cinci variabile (respectiv, vârsta, localitatea, educaţia tatălui, venitul părinţilor şi tipul de familie) au avut o corelaţie semnificativă cu sănătatea mintală a tinerilor şi, de asemenea, doar două variabile (respectiv, localitatea şi tipul de familie) au avut o corelaţie semnificativă cu stima de sine a tinerilor. În plus, rezultatele au arătat că, din cele opt variabile demografice din acest studiu, şapte variabile (respectiv, vârsta, genul, localitatea, educaţia tatălui, educaţia mamei, venitul părinţilor şi tipul de familie) au avut o corelaţie semnificativă cu performanţa academică a tinerilor. 
Concluzii. Rezultatele au indicat că există o relaţie semnificativă şi pozitivă între sănătatea mintală şi stima de sine cu rezultatele academice ale tinerilor.

Introduction

Every human being experiences different phases of life in which the youth period is crucial, valuable and productive. It is also a settling down age, assuming responsibilities and taking two or more roles at the same time(1). The youths in contemporary world must face many challenges and emotional tension and they have to cope with them for a successful performance. They are physically and mentally healthy, and their academic success often depends on many factors. Psychic health and self-worth can be identified as two important factors. A healthy teenager is not only physically healthy, but also physically healthy, with a high self-worth. Psychological health is now recognised as an important aspect of the general health status. Likewise, self-esteem reflects their own worthiness. Researches established that there is a close relationship between mental health and self-esteem(2). Students with higher mental health show better educational performance(3). Similarly, students with high self-esteem perform better in examinations, as compared to those who have a low self-esteem(4).

Li et al. (2010) investigated the relationships between mental health, self-esteem and physical health in Chinese adolescents(5). This study examined the links between mental health, self-esteem, and physical health among Chinese teenagers in Hong Kong. Chinese students (N=1945), aged 12 to 19 years old, from four secondary schools in different regions, were invited to participate in the research. The study found that a significant number of Hong Kong teenagers had depressive symptoms. The overall results showed that adolescents’ self-esteem was correlated with and was a predictor of their physical and mental health. Health professionals should take a more confident role in promoting community health education, with an emphasis on helping adolescents develop positive self-esteem. Yun (2016)(2) made a study which was aimed at examining the relationship between self-esteem and mental health according to the mindfulness of university students and to provide the basic data for drawing up measures to improve mental health by understanding and making use of mindfulness through the results.

Pernice (1997) investigated the employment attitudes and mental health of 161 long-term unemployed patients with disabilities, aged 17-60 years old(6). During an interview, the people were classified into four employment attitude groups, those who wanted employment (28%), those who were not able to work (35%), those who had alternatives to employment (30%), and those who were interested in training (7%). Mental health was assessed using the General Health Questionnaire and the Rosenberg Self-esteem Scale. The results indicated that mental health was low, with low self-esteem and high distress scores of the groups.

Our great expectation of our education system is to reveal optimum academic achievement. It is essential for teachers and other educators to ensure the maximum achievement of all students/youth enrolled in the education system. On the other hand, everyone wants to be physically and mentally healthy and to experience academic success. Academic achievement often depends on many factors, and mental health can be considered one of the important factors. A healthy individual is not only physically healthy, but also mentally healthy. This includes a sound efficient mind and controlled emotions. 

Self-esteem is an important academic construct in the educational process. It is considered one of the most important factors in students’ learning outcomes. Research shows that there is a close link between self-esteem and student achievement. Ali Asghar Bayani (2009) examined the relationship between self-confidence and school performance among high school students(7). The participants were 355 high school students from Gorgan. The mean age of the participants was 16.7 years old (SD=4.58) and the age ranged from 15 to 19 years old. There were 199 girls and 156 boys. All participants completed a booklet of questionnaires that contained two scales: the Rosenberg Self-Esteem Scale(8) and a test conducted by a teacher. The relationship between self-esteem and school performance is significant and positive (r=0.459). The self-esteem of the students is significantly higher than that of the girls.

The modern complex world makes the life of youth mentally restless. Therefore, the relationship between mental health and self-esteem with academic achievement is considered as a discreet and timely research work. The academic achievement of youth is viewed as the dependence of mental health and self-esteem. Researchers have identified the factors influencing the academic achievement (Figure 1).  Studies indicate that the academic achievement of youths is associated with numerous demographic and sociopsychological variables.

Method

Sample and sampling method

The sample population was selected from Sri Lankan youths which comprise the age group of 16-24 years old. Samples were collected from Ampara District, which cover up four religion groups and three ethnic groups. Purposive sampling was done due to the fact that academic achievement was the main criterion in this research, and 516 respondents were selected for this study.

Research design

This is an experimental study in which the researcher has no control over the variables. The researcher objectively reports what has happened or is happening. It is a descriptive study in which the researcher measures the variables involved in testing the hypotheses formulated. Furthermore, this is a collaborative study that is often used in psychology as a preliminary method for gathering information on a topic or in situations where it is not possible to perform an experiment. A part of the study is a quantitative research method that examines two or more variables from the same group of subjects and tries to determine if there is a relationship (or covariance) between the two or more variables.

Description of the tools – administration of the questionnaire

The questionnaire was administered among the youth. Demographic information schedule developed by the research investigator to procure relevant demographic information (namely, age, gender, religion, locality etc.) was used. Students’ marks lists with average marks of the youths at school, colleges and university were used as a criterion for measuring the academic achievement of youth. The Rosenberg Self-Esteem Scale developed by Rosenberg(9) is used to assess self-esteem. This scale contains 10 statements with four responses: 1) “Strongly disagree”, 2) “Disagree”, 3) “Agree”, and 4) “Strongly agree”. The 10 statements are divided into two categories, positive and negative. The respondents are asked to read the statements carefully and make an appropriate response. The reliability and validity of the mental health scale are 0.92 and 0.77, respectively. The test was developed and standardized by Verma et al., 2002(10). This tool was used to measure the mental health of youths. This test is helpful to screen the youth’s mental health. This scale consists of 60 statements with three alternative responses: 1) “Yes”, 2) “Indefinite”, and 3) “No”. The 60 statements are divided into two categories. Thirty statements are positive (1, 2, 6, 10, 11, 14, 15, 17, 19, 21, 23, 26, 28, 29, 30, 32, 35, 38, 39, 42, 43, 44, 46, 48, 50, 53, 55, 58, 59 and 60) and the remaining are negative (3, 4, 5, 7, 8, 9, 12, 13, 16, 18, 20, 22, 24, 25, 27, 31, 33, 34, 36, 37, 40, 41, 45, 47, 49, 51, 52, 54, 56 and 57). The respondents are asked to read the statement carefully and give their responses. The test-retest (interval of two months) and split-half reliability coefficient were found to be 0.86 and 0.88, respectively. The validity coefficient was calculated by comparing the scale with mental health check list of Varma, and it was found 0.79(10)

Reliability and validity of the scales

In a pre-try-out study, the two standardized tools (namely, Mental health scale and Rosenberg Self-Esteem Scale) were administered to a random sample of 100 youth in Ampara district, Sri Lanka(8). The reliability of the scales was determined by the odd-even method (split-half method). Pearson Product Moment Correlation was employed to work out the correlation between the odd and even the items of the scales. The correlation coefficient values thus obtained were subjected to Spearman-Brown’s prophecy formula for the purpose of finding the correlation coefficient for the entire scales. This gave the reliability coefficient value for each scale. Further, the validity coefficient values were worked out from the reliability coefficient using the formula Ör.

Both the reliability and validity coefficient values were subjected to ‘t’ test separately. Its level of significance was fixed by employing the formula:

The reliability and validity were
done before the collection of data.

Method of data collection

In this research, both the primary and secondary methods of data collection were adopted. The informants were contacted individually by the researcher. The booklets comprising the two standardized questionnaires (namely, Mental Health Scale and Rosenberg Self-Esteem Scale), and the personal information schedule designed by the researcher were given to each respondent following the informed consent. The confidentiality of the responses was assured by the investigator. The data collection was done approximately over a period of three month.

Method of scoring

Mental Health Scale. The Mental Health Scale consists of 60 items; there are 30 positive and 30 negative statements. Each statement is followed by three alternative responses, namely “Yes”, “Indefinite” and “No”. The subject must choose only one alternative response. The scheme of scoring is: for positive statements, a score of 2 for each “Yes” response, a score of 1 for “Indefinite”, and 0 for “No”, while for negative statements, the scores are reversed, meaning a score of 2 for “No”, a score of 1 for “Indefinite”, and 0 for “Yes”. The minimum and maximum possible scores of this scale are 0 and 120, respectively. High scores indicate higher mental health and vice versa.

Rosenberg Self-Esteem Scale. This scale consists of a total of 10 statements. There are positive and negative statements. This is a 4-point scale. Each item is followed by four responses, namely, “Strongly agree”, “Agree”, “Disagree”, and “Strongly disagree.” For positive items, the scores are 4 for “Strongly agree”, 3 for “Agree”, 2 for “Disagree”, and 1 for “Strongly disagree”. For negative items, the scores are reversed, meaning 1 for “Strongly agree, 2 for “Agree”, 3 for “Disagree”, and 4 for “Strongly disagree”. The minimum and maximum possible scores on this scale are 10 and 40, respectively. Higher scores indicate higher self-esteem, while lower scores point out to lower self-esteem.

Students mark list. The marks list of the youths at school, colleges and universities were obtained. The averages of marks obtained by the students in one academic year were considered as a criterion of academic achievement.

Data analysis

The data obtained were statistically analyzed, using appropriate descriptive and inferential techniques. The descriptive statistics consisted of the frequency polygon and graphic representations. The mean, standard deviation, t-test, analysis of variance (ANOVA) and correlation were the inferential statistics worked out.

Results

Demographic data

Data collection was done from various institutes and South Eastern University, ranked as number one. Addalaichenai College of Education ranked number two, being one of the best schools in the town. Also, in this study we have not forgotten small schools as well, and we collected around 20 samples from each school, the total number of samples collected being 516.

Regarding the distribution of the sample based on respondents’ gender, out of 516 youths, there were 231 males (44.7%) and 285 females (55.2%). Thus, the majority of the respondents were females. Regarding the respondents age, out of 516 subjects, 203 (39.4%) were 16-18 years old, 154 (29.8%) of the youths were 19-21 years old, and 159 (30.8%) were 22-24 years old. Thus, the majority of the respondents were 16-18 years old. Regarding the distribution of the sample according to siblings, out of 516 respondents, 480 (93%) youths had brothers or sisters, and only 36 (7%) respondents were single children. Thus, most of the respondents had siblings.

The parents’ income of the respondents was measured and, out of 516 youths, in 248 of cases (48%) the parents’ income was below 15,000 Rupees, in 174 of the youths (33.7%) the parents’ income was between 15,000 and 30, 0000 Rupees, and in 94 cases (18.2%) the parents’ income was above 30,000 Rupees. Thus, in the majority of the respondents, the parents’ income was below 15,000 Rupees (1 Sri Lankan Rupee = 0.0058 USD). Table 1 presents the distribution of the sample on the basis of respondents’ type of family and, out of 516 respondents, 355 (68.8%) were from nuclear families, 134 (25.9%) of the respondents belonged to joint families, and 27 (5.2%) of the youths came from broken families. Thus, the majority of the respondents were from nuclear families. Regarding the distribution of the sample on the basis of youths’ father educational qualification, out of 516 subjects, in 66 cases (12.8%) the youths’ fathers had a graduate level and above, 175 (33.9%) of the youths’ fathers had an advanced level of education (A/L), 220 fathers (42.6%) had the elementary level, and 55 fathers (10.6%) had a grade 5 level of education. Thus, most of respondents’ fathers had only the elementary level of education. Regarding the distribution of the sample on the basis of respondents’ mother educational qualification, out of 516 subjects, 31 (6%) of the youths’ mothers had a graduate educational level and above, 124 (24%) of the youths’ mothers had an advanced level (A/L), 228 (44%) mothers had the elementary level, and 133 (25.7%) mothers had a grade 5 level of education. Thus, most of respondents’ mothers had only the elementary level of education. Table 1 presents the distribution of the sample based on respondents’ residence environment (locality). Out of 516 youths, 307 (59.5%) were from rural areas and 209 (40.5%) were from urban areas. Thus, most respondents were from rural areas.

The purpose of this analysis is to find out the interdependence of each of the two variables on one another. The interdependence between variables is discussed below. Mental health is positively and significantly related to self-esteem (0.512), and there is a positive and significant correlation between the variables. Therefore, it is concluded that there is a significant relationship between mental health and self-esteem of the youths. Hence, the stated hypothesis that there is significant relationship between mental health and self-esteem is accepted (Table 2).

The purpose of this analysis is to find out the interdependence of each of the two variables on one another. The interdependence between variables is discussed below. Mental health is positively and significantly related to academic achievement (0.259), and here there is a positive and significant correlation between the variables. Therefore, it is concluded that there is a significant relationship between mental health and academic achievement of the youths. Hence, the stated hypothesis that there is significant relationship between mental health and academic achievement is accepted.

Self-esteem is positively and significantly related to academic achievement (0.158), and there is a positive and significant correlation between the variables. Therefore, it is concluded that there is a significant relationship between self-esteem and the academic achievement of youths. Hence, the stated hypothesis that there is significant relationship between self-esteem and academic achievement is accepted.

Table 3 shows the results of regression analysis, such as cumulative R2, DR2, step t and p value of the mental health of youths with demographic variables. An attempt was made to find out whether the demographic variables would be possible predictors of mental health of youths. The results indicate that the three variables (namely, type of family, locality and parents’ income) are significant in predicting the mental health. The “type of family” predicts mental health to an extent of 0.030 which is found to be statistically significant at the 0.01 level; “locality” predicts mental health to an extent of 0.061 which is found to be statistically significant at the 0.01 level; and “parent’s income” predicts mental health to an extent of 0.070 which is found to be statistically significant at the 0.05 level (Table 3).

Table 4 shows the results of regression analysis, such as cumulative R2, DR2, step t and p value of self-esteem of youths with demographic variables. It was also attempted to find out whether the demographic variables would be possible predictors of self-esteem of youths. The results indicate that the two variables (namely, locality and type of family) are significant in predicting the self-esteem. “Locality” predicts self-esteem to an extent of 0.013 which is found to be statistically significant at the 0.01 level. The second variable, “type of family” predicts self-esteem to an extent of 0.022 which is found to be statistically significant at the 0.05 level. Overall, the outcomes reveal that, out of eight demographic variables, only two demographic variables emerged as predictors of youths’ self-esteem (Table 4).

Discussion

This research is an empirical effort done to assess the relationship between mental health and self-esteem with academic achievement. Further, it tries to find the influence of demographic variables, such as age, gender, siblings, level of father’s and mother’s education, parents’ income, type of family and locality, on mental health, self-esteem and academic achievement.

This investigation was conducted from a purposive sample of 516 youths in Ampara district of Sri Lanka. The age range of the participants was 16-24 years old (mean age: 19.2 years old). The participants were from six schools, five colleges and one university. The organizations for sample selection were only the educational institutions in the Amparai district of Sri Lanka. In this study two standardized scales (namely, Mental Health Scale developed by Verma et al.(10) and the Self-Esteem Scale developed by Rosenberg(8)) were used to measure mental health and self-esteem, respectively.

In this study, the correlation coefficient was worked out in order to understand the relationship between mental health and self-esteem. The results indicate that mental health is positively correlated with self-esteem (Table 1) which portrays that increase in mental health leads to increase in self-esteem, and vice versa, among youths. The present findings are supported by earlier research that revealed a positive relationship between mental health and self-esteem(2). It was proven that there was a significant, positive correlation between mental health and self-esteem. Li et al.(5) found that self-esteem of adolescents was correlated to and a predictor of their physical and mental health. Rafati et al.(11), Zimmerman(12) and Pernice(6) also showed the positive correlation between mental health and self-esteem.

Mental health and academic achievement

In this study, the correlation coefficient was worked out in order to understand the relationship between mental health and academic achievement. The results indicate that mental health is positively correlated with academic achievement (Table 2). The research finding is supported by previous studies by Talawar and Das(13) who found a significant relationship between mental health and academic achievement. Akbar et al.(14) revealed  the mutual correlation between mental health and academic performance which is also affected by mental health issues. Roberts et al.(15) also found that there was a positive relationship between mental health and achievement among youths.

Self-esteem and academic achievement

In this study, the correlation coefficient was worked out in order to understand the relationship between self-esteem and academic achievement. The results indicate that mental health is positively correlated with self-esteem (Table 3). This result can be supported by previous researches by Aryana(16) who demonstrated that students with positive self-esteem have high academic performance. Earlier empirical observation by Bayani(17) confirmed that the correlation between self-esteem and academic achievement is meaningful and positive. Naderi et al.(18) also found a significant relationship between self-esteem and academic performance. Rosli et al.(19) revealed in their study that there was a positive correlation between self-esteem and academic achievement.

Conclusions

Our study found that there is a positive correlation between mental health and self-esteem, mental health and academic achievement, and self-esteem and academic achievement. Therefore, it is crucial to improve mental health and self-esteem in order to enhance the academic outcome. This is especially vital in a developing country like Sri Lanka. Furthermore, some demographic variables also have a relationship with mental health, self-esteem and academic achievement.

 

Figure 1. Research design
Figure 1. Research design
Correlations
Correlations
Mental health for demographic variables
Mental health for demographic variables
Self-esteem for demographic variables
Self-esteem for demographic variables











Limitations. The sample collection is not an easy task due to the language and distance barrier.

Acknowledgement. Authors would like to acknowledge the participants of the study.

Statement of contribution: M.F. – idea inception, data collection and planning; M.M.M. – analysis and planning of the study; F.M.M.T. – planning and writing the manuscript.

 

Conflict of interest: none declared

Financial support: none declared

This work is permanently accessible online free of charge and published under the CC-BY.
sigla CC-BY


 

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