The relationship of level of positive mental health with current mental disorders in predicting suicidal behavior and academic impairment in college students

J Am Coll Health. 2012;60(2):126-33. doi: 10.1080/07448481.2011.608393.


Objective: To investigate whether level of positive mental health complements mental illness in predicting students at risk for suicidal behavior and impaired academic performance.

Participants: A sample of 5,689 college students participated in the 2007 Healthy Minds Study and completed an Internet survey that included the Mental Health Continuum-Short Form and the Patient Health Questionnaire screening scales for depression and anxiety disorders, questions about suicide ideation, plans, and attempts, and academic impairment.

Results: Just under half (49.3%) of students were flourishing and did not screen positive for a mental disorder. Among students who did, and those who did not, screen for a mental disorder, suicidal behavior and impaired academic performance were lowest in those with flourishing, higher among those with moderate, and highest in those with languishing mental health.

Conclusions: Positive mental health complements mental disorder screening in mental health surveillance and prediction of suicidal behavior and impairment of academic performance.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Educational Status
  • Female
  • Happiness
  • Health Surveys
  • Humans
  • Internet
  • Male
  • Mental Disorders*
  • Mental Health*
  • Personal Satisfaction
  • Risk Assessment / methods
  • Students / psychology*
  • Suicidal Ideation*
  • Suicide, Attempted / psychology*
  • Suicide, Attempted / statistics & numerical data
  • United States
  • Universities
  • Young Adult