Psychological distress in French college students: demographic, economic and social stressors. Results from the 2010 National Health Barometer

BMC Public Health. 2014 Mar 17;14:256. doi: 10.1186/1471-2458-14-256.


Background: Psychological distress (PD) in students is under-investigated, since its prevalence can be high in certain subgroups of students and it has been seen to be associated with other mental health issues and academic achievement. In a sample of French college students, this study investigated factors associated with PD, and looked more closely at the impact of social and interpersonal variables.

Methods: Data were extracted from the 2010 French "National Health Barometer". 946 students were interviewed. Mental health was assessed using the MH-5 five-item scale.

Results: The PD rate in this sample was 13.8% (7.2% in males, 19.5% in females). Low income, nonsexual assault in the last 12 months, studying law and low social participation were associated with PD in multivariate analyses.

Conclusions: French students show specific characteristics that are discussed in order to explain the relatively low rate of PD observed. The impact of loneliness and social isolation are a major focus for preventive policies based on community resources and early detection of the symptoms of PD.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Demography
  • Ethnicity
  • Female
  • France / epidemiology
  • Humans
  • Income
  • Loneliness / psychology*
  • Male
  • Mental Health*
  • Multivariate Analysis
  • Poverty / psychology*
  • Prevalence
  • Residence Characteristics
  • Social Isolation / psychology*
  • Stress, Psychological / epidemiology
  • Stress, Psychological / etiology*
  • Students / psychology*
  • Universities
  • Violence / psychology
  • Young Adult