A simple method for assessing the mental health status of students in higher education

Éva Bíró, Róza Ádány, Karolina Kósa

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Mental health problems are common among students in higher education all over the world, so identifying those who are at higher risk would allow the targeted provision of help. Our goal was to develop an assessment tool to identify students at risk for vulnerable mental health status. This tool was created from the 12-item General Health Questionnaire and Antonovsky’s abbreviated sense of coherence scale and was tested to distinguish between those with high or low mental resilience. Predictive ability was characterized by likelihood ratios taking the Beck Depression Inventory and perceived health as references. One-quarter (95% CI 21.1% to 29.7%) of the students had been in vulnerable mental health characterized by low sense of coherence and high distress, whereas 28.4% (95% CI 24.2% to 33.1%) seemed resilient, having high sense of coherence and low distress. The high negative predictive value of the assessment tool reliably identified resilient students in comparison with both the Beck Depression Inventory (98.6%) and perceived health status (83.9%). Use of the assessment tool is recommended for students to distinguish between those at decreased and increased risk in terms of mental health. Mental health services should be offered to students at higher risk.

Original languageEnglish
Article number4733
JournalInternational journal of environmental research and public health
Issue number23
Publication statusPublished - Dec 1 2019



  • Assessment tool
  • Likelihood ratio
  • Mental health
  • Predictive ability
  • Students

ASJC Scopus subject areas

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

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