1.3. Mental Health and Romantic Relationships-Creating a Research Focus

1.3. Mental Health and Romantic Relationships-Creating a Research Focus

Social support, however, may not always be beneficial. If students’ parents also suffer from mental illness ; there is a breakdown of communication or a history of abuse and intergenerational problems in the student’s family or there is a barrier to developing social relationships with others , the perceived lack of adequate social support will instead impede students’ ability to reach out-and receive-mental health help. In particular, levels of perceived support from family have been negatively associated with physical health . Similarly, negative perceptions of support from peers and romantic partners are associated with higher levels of loneliness, depression , anxiety, insecurity, and low moods . These health problems may compound to produce low self-esteem .

Specifically, breaking up or losing a romantic partner increases one’s levels of psychological distress , which can compound already-existing mental health concerns, particularly depression and substance use (for not having a love interest at all) when compared to their coupled https://kissbrides.com/sv/secret-benefits-recension/ counterparts [42,43]

Dealing with mental illness is difficult enough, but the label and stigma of mental illness can make perceptions of social support-and the confidence to reach out for help and treatment-even more difficult. Feeling that others have also applied the deviant label of “mentally ill” to them, students may withdraw from other students or sources of support on campus , particularly if campus culture and media portrayals teach them that mental illness is being weak or unacceptable. . While this may prevent students from seeking the mental help they need, it may also perpetuate the idea that mental illness should be hidden-reiterating this gap in help-seeking .

In addition to being considered deviant, the mentally ill are stigmatized for their illness, leading to higher risk of negative health and social outcomes for students. Indeed, the stigma of mental illness is the fourth most common barrier for seeking mental health treatment for young adults . The failure to seek treatment or the fear of their stigma being revealed and shared with others, or of their illness contaminating the “healthy” partner [13,38], makes the risk factors associated with mental illness in college even more concerning.

In addition to increased mental health risks associated with the transition to college, romantic relationships are sometimes associated with increased risk of mental illness .

By contrast, research on the benefits of romantic relationships has been found to serve as a buffer to negative mental health outcomes [42,44,45], particularly for women’s levels of depressive symptoms . Even intrapersonal affects have been noted, with romantic relationships boosting self-esteem and self-concepts for an individual [43,47]. Whether through monitoring changes in their partner’s behavior, providing general social and emotional support, or advocating for health care or therapy [48,49], the value of relationships on mental health outcomes is impressive.

Young adults transitioning to college with unmet mental health needs impacts their ability to maintain healthy romantic relationships . Though relationships can help improve mental health and may address some of these unmet needs, generally, committed, longer-lasting relationships are the ones most beneficial to mental health outcomes [50,51]. Gendered benefits in mental health outcomes related to relationship status similarly find college-aged women at increased risk of mental illness following a breakup . For college students of any gender, however, the impact of relationship dissolution on mental health tends to add another type of stressor into this already tumultuous time, particularly if the breakup is internalized and exacerbates already-existing mental health problems .

1.4. Summary and Hypotheses

This study sought to answer whether mental health was associated with relationship creation, maintenance, and dissolution among undergraduate college students. We tested the following hypotheses based on prior research:

Social location will influence rates of mental health problems. In particular, minority students (females, racial/ethnic minorities, and LGBT students) will report higher rates of mental health diagnoses than their majority counterparts. Existing literature has confirmed that young adult women face higher mental illness rates than their male counterparts , LGBTQ individuals are twice as likely to have a mental disorder compared to heterosexual individuals and students of color are vulnerable to increased mental illness risk because of perceived discrimination [17,18].

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