How Challenge Stress Affects Mental Health among College Students during the COVID-19 Pandemic: The Moderating Role of Self-Efficacy

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Abstract
While a plethora of studies has been conducted to examine stress and its impact on mental health in western countries, research is scarce investigating the relationship between student challenge stress and health illness in the context of Chinese colleges. No studies examined the moderating effect of self-efficacy on the relationship between challenge stress and health illness. This study attempted to investigate the relationships between these three variables among Chinese college students. Especially, this study focused on examining whether self-efficacy moderated the effect of perceived challenge stress on students’ mental health. Also, the differences were tested between male and female students in terms of these three variables. A sample of 578 Chinese college students was recruited over an approximately 12-week period from 7 Chinese universities. An online survey link was distributed through WeChat. The SPSS version 26 software was used to analyze the data. Results showed that there is no significant difference between genders in terms of perceived challenge stress, self-efficacy, and students’ mental health. In addition, challenge stress was positively related to the students’ mental health (β = 0.35, p < 0.01) while there was a negative association between self-efficacy and mental health (β = -0.41, p < 0.01). Furthermore, self-efficacy plays a moderating role in the relationship between challenge stress and mental health (β = -0.11, p = 0.02). Students with low self-efficacy tend to experience more mental health issues. It is suggested that Chinese colleges and universities pay more attention to students with low self-efficacy, either through faculty/staff interventions or peer counseling. Professors consider reducing students’ academic stress to improve their mental health.
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Archival date: 2021-04-30
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