Mother's education has a significant effect on college students' depression


A new study has found evidence that the level of a mother’s education has a significant effect on her children’s level of depression in college. The findings appear in the journal Psychiatry Research.

“I graduated from SUNY university at Buffalo with my Ph.D. in sociology. My research interests are related to family sociology and mental health among college students. I have found in some literature, although mother’s education was found to have a direct effect on college students’ negative mental health, the indirect pathway through family function may have been overlooked. The role of family function should be highlighted,” said study author Sibo Zhao of the Central University of Finance and Economics.

The study of 1,177 undergraduates from 12 universities in Beijing found that s mother’s education level was negatively related to their offspring’s depression level. In other words, students tended to have lower levels of depressive symptoms when their mothers had higher levels of education.

The researchers also found evidence that family functioning — meaning the ability of a family to resolve conflicts, communicate effectively, and show affection — played a key role in the relationship between a mother’s education and her offspring’s depression level.

“Mother’s education influences their offspring’s mental health through family functioning. Better functioning families can protect students from negative life events and positively affect students’ mental health. The findings of the current study provide an inspiration for preventing depression and improving the mental health of college students,” Zhao told PsyPost.

“Findings from the present study provide only preliminary evidence for statistical causal mediation of mother’s education impacting their college-aged offspring’s depression level through family functioning. More research should be done with longitudinal data.”

“The study also provides some evidence for policy makers to increase financial support for the education of women in China,” Zhao added.

The study, “The effects of mother’s education on college student’s depression level: The role of family function“, was authored by Sibo Zhao and Guo Yiyue.

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