Mental health and its relationship with social support in Iranian students during the COVID-19 pandemic

BMC Psychol. 2021 May 17;9(1):81. doi: 10.1186/s40359-021-00589-4.


Background: In addition to physical problems, the COVID-19 crisis continues to impose serious psychological adverse effects on people's mental health, which plays a major role in the efficiency of every community. Students, especially medical sciences students, suffer from more stress as a result of exposure to COVID-induced stressors. It is, therefore, essential to measure mental health and its relationship with social support in medical sciences students during the COVID pandemic. The present study was conducted to determine the mental health status of students and its correlation with social support.

Methods: This cross-sectional study was conducted using random sampling on 280 students of Tabriz University of Medical Sciences in Iran in 2020. Socio-demographic profile scale, Mental Health Test (GHQ-28), and the scale of Perceived Social Support (PRQ-85) were used to collect data. Participants completed the questionnaires online.

Results: Considering the potential confounding variables, a general linear model (GLM) was utilized to determine the relationship between mental health and perceived social support. Mean (± standard deviation) of total mental health score 26.5 (12.5) was in the acceptable range of 0-63., and 56% of students suffered from a mental disorder. Mean (± standard deviation) of social support score 128.2 (21.0) ranged from 25 to175. According to Pearson's correlation coefficient, there was a significant inverse correlation between social support score and total mental health score and all its subscales [p < 0.001; r = - 0.294 to - 0.536]. According to the GLM, mental health score decreased significantly with social support score [p = 0.0001; - 0.32 to - 0.20; CI 95%; B = 0.26].

Conclusions: Given the inverse relationship between social support and mental health, it is suggested to increase the level of social support for students at all times, especially during the stressful COVID-19 pandemic to improve their mental health.

Keywords: Covid-19; Mental health; Social support; Student.

MeSH terms

  • Anxiety
  • COVID-19*
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Depression
  • Humans
  • Iran
  • Mental Health
  • Pandemics*
  • SARS-CoV-2
  • Social Support
  • Stress, Psychological / epidemiology