Understanding the importance of social networks for student wellbeing at BU

This seminar highlights the results of George Ellis’ recent research project in which he investigated the importance of social networks on anxiety and depression levels within the BU MSc student cohorts of 2014-2016. We are keen to share this information so that people may be able to use it for planning MSc student inductions and support at BU. It also gives information on the anxiety and depression levels found within our BU MSc student population.

The social networks we are embedded in and the personal relationships held within them can function to benefit our psychological wellbeing in ways related to interaction,  integration and support. These functions are called upon especially during major transitions in our lives, where our sensitivities to negative emotional states may be heightened due to increased distance from social bonds, and/or stresses associated with the transitory phase.

Higher education is a significant time of transition which is attracting increasing numbers of people, however many students demonstrate poor wellbeing and discontinuation at university is common. International students may be especially prone to stresses related to higher education, due to potential increased distance from social ties (homesickness), language anxieties and other aspects of culture-shock.

This study investigated whether social network size can be used to predict anxiety and depression levels in postgraduate students at BU. We hypothesised that:

  • (a) Individuals with larger social networks may exhibit lower anxiety and depression levels
  • (b) International students may demonstrate higher anxiety and depression levels than national students.

Furthermore, the study explores the functional factors (social integration, social support), along with others (frequency of contact, proportion of face-to-face contact) which may be mediating any relationships found.

Results demonstrate a significant negative relationship between social network size and anxiety but no significant relationship with depression. Furthermore, no significant differences in anxiety or depression levels were found between national and international students. There was a significant negative relationship found between the number of contacts an individual had living in the university town and anxiety, suggesting that integration may be an important mediating factor in the relationship between social network size and anxiety, and in maintaining wellbeing in postgraduate students. These results (amongst others) are discussed along with the significant roles that social networks in terms of social integration, social support other factors can play in maintaining wellbeing during postgraduate studies at BU.

Title Date Time Location
Understanding the importance of social networks for student wellbeing at BU Monday 20th February 2017 13.00 – 14.00 Talbot Campus

If you would like to book your place at this workshop please email Organisational Development

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