Mental Health, Support System, and Perceived Usefulness of Support in University Students in Hong Kong Amidst COVID-19 Pandemic: A Mixed-Method Survey

Agnes Y.K. Lai, George O.C. Cheung, Asa C.M. Choi, Man Ping Wang, Polly S.L. Chan, Angie H.Y. Lam, Esther W.S. Lo, Chia Chin Lin, Tai Hing Lam

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1 Citation (Scopus)


Background: This study explored the association of students’ mental health with their support system, identified the preferred ways and sources of support, investigated the perceived usefulness of available university support, and recommended actionable strategies to enhance students’ mental health. Method: An online questionnaire survey and semi-structured focus group interviews were conducted in 2021. Results: Among 1121 university students, 39.4% reported anxiety symptoms, which were less common in Chinese students and those pursuing medical and health programmes. Overall, 32.6% reported depression symptoms, which were more common in undergraduates. Both anxiety and depression symptoms were less common in students with higher resilience and support system and more common in students with family distress. Students with higher resilience had a better support system and less family distress. Perceived support from universities was lower than from peers and families. Peer support and phone contacts were the most preferred sources and ways of support. The most useful available university support was updated university guidelines, and the least useful was the emotional hotline service from universities The qualitative findings corroborated the quantitative results. Conclusion: We suggested that a holistic care approach and more proactive student-oriented university support would help students face adversity and enhance mental health.

Original languageEnglish
Article number12931
JournalInternational journal of environmental research and public health
Issue number19
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2022


  • COVID-19
  • family functioning
  • Hong Kong
  • mental health
  • resilience
  • support system
  • university students
  • university support

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pollution
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis

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