|Department:||Department of Public Health, Policy, and Social Sciences|
|Keywords:||International Students, Wellbeing, Mental Health, Wales|
|Full text PDF:||http://www.swansea.ac.uk/humanandhealthsciences/departments/department-of-public-health-policy-and-social-sciences/|
Background and Aims: The World Health Organization (2005) states that mental well-being is fundamental to quality of life. International students are a particularly vulnerable group in terms of well-being due to loss of social support and stress from academic and social adjustment. The aims of this study were to measure international students’ well-being and explore its association with students’ background, experiences and relationships with the International Students Advisory Services (ISAS) in order to determine how that well-being can be best promoted. Methodology: A mixed method approach was used including a web-based cross-sectional survey and a series of semi-structured interviews. Mental well-being was measured using the Warwick-Edinburg Mental Well-Being Scale (WEMWBS) to which items specific to international students’ experience were added. Although factor analysis is often performed on modified questionnaires to interrogate statistical similarity and grouping of items, here because of the small sample size which did not allow such an analysis, key variables were computed by adding items together and exploring internal reliability of the procedure by performing Cronbach's alpha on the new scale. Survey questions explored students’ experience, specific stressors, coping strategies and sources of social support alongside items evaluating contact with student support services. Likewise, interview questions examined students’ experiences, stressors and coping strategies. Multivariate ANOVA, Pearson’s correlations and linear regression analysis were used to explore associations between student well-being and descriptive characteristics. This was further compared with key themes emerging from interview data. Results: 61 students participated of which 10 were interviewed. Triangulation of results revealed an above average measure of mental wellbeing across the sample. Total well-being scores ranged from 31 to 88 with a mean of 65.0 (out of a possible 19 to 95 with higher scores indicating increased well-being). Overall family situation was the most predictive variable of well-being. Moreover, whilst 53.0% of students reported regular contacts and receiving various types of support from ISAS, 78.9% reported having experienced difficulty accessing support. Conclusion: The data present important implications for improving student well-being at Swansea University. Mental health outreach efforts should focus more on students’ family concerns and ISAS can enhance its support by increasing accessibility to its services.