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Mental health and psychosocial factors with single-child high school students in an urban city of China

Liu, C., Munakata, T., Fujiyama, H.ORCID: 0000-0002-7546-6636 and Usuba, M. (2003) Mental health and psychosocial factors with single-child high school students in an urban city of China. Japanese Journal of Public Health, 50 (1). pp. 15-26.

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This study investigated psychosocial factors underlying the mental health problems of single-child high school students in China, where society and the family situation have been rapidly changing since introduction of the open-economy policy.


Three hundred and ten college-bound high school students in Heilong Jiangsheng Harbin completed self-administrative questionnaires in February, 2000. The subjects were divided into single-child and non single-child groups. Analysis of correlations was performed for general attributes, mental conditions measured by General Health Questionnaire (GHQ), personality variables, stressors, and emotion support network. Cause-and-effect factors were also analyzed using Covariance Analysis.

In the single-child and in non single-child groups, the percentage suffering neurotic tendencies were 73% and 39%, and the values for a tendency to depression were 63% and 25%, respectively. In the single-child group, anxiety, interpersonal dependence, and perceived stressors were significantly higher while the perceived self-esteem and emotional support from family members were significantly lower than in the non single-child group. Among the variables, having siblings was highly correlated with all the measured factors influencing mental health. The results indicated that a poor emotional support network could cause low self-esteem, high anxiety trait, strong interpersonal dependence, and increased sensitivity to stressors and worsening of mental health.

CONCLUSION: The incidence of mental health related problems was found to be significantly higher in the single-children than in the non single-children. Thus having siblings has positive effects on mental health. The emotional support network also plays an important role in the mental condition, development of a healthy personality, and building a positive attitude toward stressors.

Item Type: Journal Article
Publisher: J-Stage
Copyright: © 2003 Japanese Society of Public Health
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