Psychological Distress Mediates the Relationship Between Social Support and Satisfaction with Life

The Mediating Role of Psychological Distress

Abstract views: 112 / PDF downloads: 71




Social support, psychological disstress, life satisfaction


University students are susceptible to psychological issues due to various academic and social stressors in their lives. Decreased life satisfaction among these students can result in a wide variety of adverse outcomes, which can negatively impact their overall well-being and academic performance. The current study aims at examining the mediating role of psychological distress in the association between social support and life satisfaction. This cross-sectional study included 368 university students (F= 243, 66%; M= 125, 34%) from two public universities in Turkey. The research data were obtained utilizing the Brief Symptom Inventory, the Satisfaction with Life Scale, and the Multidimensional Scale of Perceived Social Support. The findings demonstrated that social support had a positive predictive effect on life satisfaction and a negative predictive effect on psychological distress. In addition, psychological distress negatively predicted life satisfaction. Moreover, the SEM analysis indicated that psychological distress played a partial mediating role in the association between social support and life satisfaction. These results highlight the importance of addressing social support and psychological distress in interventions aimed at increasing life satisfaction among university students.


Alorani, O. I., & Alradaydeh, M. T. F. (2018). Spiritual well-being perceived social support, and life satisfaction among university students. International Journal of Adolescence and Youth, 23(3), 291-298.

Bramhankar, M., Kundu, S., Pandey, M., Mishra, N. L., & Adarsh, A. (2023). An assessment of self-rated life satisfaction and its correlates with physical, mental and social health status among older adults in India. Scientific Reports, 13(1), 9117.

Bukhari, S. R., & Saba, F. (2017). Depression, anxiety and stress as negative predictors of life satisfaction in university students. Rawal Medical Journal, 42(2), 255-257.

Byrne, B. (2010). Structural equation modeling with AMOS: Basic concepts, applications, and programming (2nd ed.). Routledge.

Chang, L., McBride-Chang, C., Stewart, S., & Au, E. (2003). Life satisfaction, self-concept, and family relations in Chinese adolescents and children. International Journal of Behavioral Development, 27(2), 182-189.

Che, X., Cash, R., Ng, S. K., Fitzgerald, P., & Fitzgibbon, B. M. (2018). A systematic review of the processes underlying the main and the buffering effect of social support on the experience of pain. The Clinical Journal of Pain, 34(11), 1061-1076.

Chen, X., Ma, Y., Wu, R., & Liu, X. (2021). Moderating roles of social support in the association between hope and life satisfaction among ethnic minority college students in China. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 18(5), 2298.

Cohen, S., & Wills, T. A. (1985). Stress, social support, and the buffering hypothesis. Psychological Bulletin, 98(2), 310–357.

Commodari, E., La Rosa, V. L., Carnemolla, G., & Parisi, J. (2021). The psychological impact of the lockdown on Italian university students during the first wave of COVID-19 pandemic: psychological experiences, health risk perceptions, distance learning, and future perspectives. Mediterranean Journal of Clinical Psychology, 9(2), 1-19.

Cunningham, M. R., & Barbee, A. P. (2000). Social support. In C. Hendrick & S. S. Hendrick (Eds.), Close relationships: A sourcebook (pp. 273–285). Sage.

Dağlı, A., & Baysal, N. (2016). Yaşam doyumu ölçeğinin Türkçe’ye uyarlanması: Geçerlik ve güvenirlik çalişması. Elektronik Sosyal Bilimler Dergisi, 15(59), 1250-1262.

Diener, E. D., Emmons, R. A., Larsen, R. J., & Griffin, S. (1985). The satisfaction with life scale. Journal of Personality Assessment, 49(1), 71-75.

Diener, E., Lucas, R. E., & Oishi, S. (2002). Subjective well-being: The science of happiness and life satisfaction. In S. J. Lopez & C. R. Snyder (Eds.), Handbook of positive psychology (pp.187-194). Oxford University Press.

Drapeau, A., Marchand, A., & Beaulieu-Prévost, D. (2012). Epidemiology of psychological distress. In P. L. Labate, (Ed.), Mental illnesses-understanding, prediction and control (pp. 155-134). IntechOpen.

Duong, C. D. (2021). The impact of fear and anxiety of Covid-19 on life satisfaction: Psychological distress and sleep disturbance as mediators. Personality and Individual Differences, 178, 110869.

Düşünceli, B., Çolak, T. S., Demir, S., & Koç, M., (2020). Examination of meeting the needs of university students from social support systems. Journal of Measurement and Evaluation in Education and Psychology, 11(4), 346-361.

Eker, D., Arkar, H., & Yaldız, H. (2001). Factorial structure, validity, and reliability of revised form of the multidimensional scale of perceived social support. Turkish Journal of Psychiatry, 12(1), 17-25.

Eskin, M., Sun, J. M., Abuidhail, J., Yoshimasu, K., Kujan, O., Janghorbani, M., ... & Voracek, M. (2016). Suicidal behavior and psychological distress in university students: A 12-nation study. Archives of Suicide Research, 20(3), 369-388.

Fornell, C., & Larcker, D. F. (1981). Evaluating structural equation models with unobservable variables and measurement error. Journal of Marketing Research, 18(1), 39-50.

Gilman, R., & Huebner, S. (2003). A review of life satisfaction research with children and adolescents. School Psychology Quarterly, 18(2), 192–205.

Goodwin, R., Costa, P., & Adonu, J. (2004). Social support and its consequences: ‘Positive’ and ‘deficiency’ values and their implications for support and self‐esteem. British Journal of Social Psychology, 43(3), 465-474.

Grant, N., Wardle, J., & Steptoe, A. (2009). The relationship between life satisfaction and health behavior: a cross-cultural analysis of young adults. International Journal of Behavioral Medicine, 16, 259-268.

Güngör, A., Young, M. E., & Sivo, S. A. (2021). Negative life events and psychological distress and life satisfaction in US college students: The moderating effects of optimism, hope, and gratitude. Journal of Pedagogical Research, 5(4), 62-75.

Han, J., Leng, X., Gu, X., Li, Q., Wang, Y., & Chen, H. (2021). The role of neuroticism and subjective social status in the relationship between perceived social support and life satisfaction. Personality and Individual Differences, 168, 110356.

Harandi, T. F., Taghinasab, M. M., & Nayeri, T. D. (2017). The correlation of social support with mental health: A meta-analysis. Electronic Physician, 9(9), 5212-5222.

Hayes, A. F. (2009). Beyond Baron and Kenny: Statistical mediation analysis in the new millennium. Communication Monographs, 76(4), 408-420.

Heller, D., Watson, D., & Ilies, R. (2006). The dynamic process of life satisfaction. Journal of Personality, 74(5), 1421-1450.

Hu, L. T., & Bentler, P. M. (1999). Cutoff criteria for fit indexes in covariance structure analysis: Conventional criteria versus new alternatives. Structural Equation Modeling: A Multidisciplinary Journal, 6(1), 1-55.

Hunt, J., & Eisenberg, D. (2010). Mental health problems and help-seeking behavior among college students. Journal of Adolescent Health, 46(1), 3-10.

Kasprzak, E. (2010). Perceived social support and life-satisfaction. Polish Psychological Bulletin, 41(4), 144-154.

Kaya, M. D., & Kaya, F. (2023). The relationship between self-silencing and general distress: Does self-esteem play a mediating role?. Cyprus Turkish Journal of Psychiatry and Psychology, 5(2), 95-104.

Kerr, D. C., Preuss, L. J., & King, C. A. (2006). Suicidal adolescents' social support from family and peers: Gender-specific associations with psychopathology. Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology, 34(1), 99-110.

Kessler, R. C., Aguilar-Gaxiola, S., Alonso, J., Chatterji, S., Lee, S., Ormel, J., ... & Wang, P. S. (2009). The global burden of mental disorders: an update from the WHO World Mental Health (WMH) surveys. Epidemiology and Psychiatric Sciences, 18(1), 23-33.

Kobau, R., Seligman, M. E., Peterson, C., Diener, E., Zack, M. M., Chapman, D., & Thompson, W. (2011). Mental health promotion in public health: Perspectives and strategies from positive psychology. American Journal of Public Health, 101(8), e1-e9.

Koivumaa-Honkanen, H., Honkanen, R., Viinamaeki, H., Heikkilae, K., Kaprio, J., & Koskenvuo, M. (2001). Life satisfaction and suicide: A 20-year follow-up study. American Journal of Psychiatry, 158(3), 433-439.

Kumar, H., Shaheen, A., Rasool, I. & shafi, M. (2016). Psychological distress and life satisfaction among university students. Journal of Psychology & Clinical Psychiatry, 5(3), 00283.

Lakey, B, & Cohen, S. (2000). Social support theory and measurement. In S. Cohen, L. G. Underwood, & B. J. Gottlieb (Eds.), Social support measurement and intervention (pp. 29-53). Oxford University Press.

Liang, L., Gao, T., Ren, H., Cao, R., Qin, Z., Hu, Y., ... & Mei, S. (2020). Post-traumatic stress disorder and psychological distress in Chinese youths following the COVID-19 emergency. Journal of Health Psychology, 25(9), 1164-1175.

Lin, N., Woelfel, M. W., & Light, S. C. (1985). The buffering effect of social support subsequent to an important life event. Journal of Health and Social Behavior, 247-263.

Littleton, H., Horsley, S., John, S., & Nelson, D. V. (2007). Trauma coping strategies and psychological distress: A meta‐analysis. Journal of Traumatic Stress: Official Publication of the International Society for Traumatic Stress Studies, 20(6), 977-988.

Lombardo, P., Jones, W., Wang, L., Shen, X., & Goldner, E. M. (2018). The fundamental association between mental health and life satisfaction: Results from successive waves of a Canadian national survey. BMC Public Health, 18(1), 1-9.

Mahanta, D., & Aggarwal, M. (2013). Effect of perceived social support on life satisfaction of university students. European Academic Research, 1(6), 1083-1094.

Mewton, L., Kessler, R. C., Slade, T., Hobbs, M. J., Brownhill, L., Birrell, L., … & Andrews, G. (2016). The psychometric properties of the Kessler Psychological Distress Scale (K6) in a general population sample of adolescents. Psychological Assessment, 28(10), 1232–1242.

Moksnes, U. K., & Espnes, G. A. (2013). Self-esteem and life satisfaction in adolescents—gender and age as potential moderators. Quality of Life Research, 22, 2921-2928.

Norris, F. H., & Kaniasty, K. (1996). Received and perceived social support in times of stress: a test of the social support deterioration deterrence model. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 71(3), 498-511.

Odacı, H., Kaya, F., & Kınık, Ö. (2021). Genel iyi oluş ölçeği kısa formu’nun Türkçeye uyarlama çalışması. Dokuz Eylül Üniversitesi Buca Eğitim Fakültesi Dergisi, (52), 97-111.

Pavot, W., & Diener, E. (1993). Review of the Satisfaction With Life Scale. Psychological Assessment, 5(2), 164–172.

Payton, A. R. (2009). Mental health, mental illness, and psychological distress: same continuum or distinct phenomena?. Journal of health and Social Behavior, 50(2), 213-227.

Ranđelović, D., Krstić, M., & Babić-Antić, J. (2014). Academic success, anxiety and depressiveness as the predictors of life satisfaction among the students. Journal of Educational and Instructional Studies in the World, 4(4), 63-73.

Ridner, S. H. (2004). Psychological distress: concept analysis. Journal of Advanced Nursing, 45(5), 536-545.

Rode, J. C., Arthaud-Day, M. L., Mooney, C. H., Near, J. P., Baldwin, T. T., Bommer, W. H., & Rubin, R. S. (2005). Life satisfaction and student performance. Academy of Management Learning & Education, 4(4), 421-433.

Rogowska, A. M., Ochnik, D., Kuśnierz, C., Jakubiak, M., Schütz, A., Held, M. J., ... & Cuero-Acosta, Y. A. (2021). Satisfaction with life among university students from nine countries: Cross-national study during the first wave of COVID-19 pandemic. BMC Public Health, 21(1), 2262.

Sæther, S. M. M., Knapstad, M., Askeland, K. G., & Skogen, J. C. (2019). Alcohol consumption, life satisfaction and mental health among Norwegian college and university students. Addictive Behaviors Reports, 10, 100216.

Sahu, P. (2020). Closure of universities due to coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19): Impact on education and mental health of students and academic staff. Cureus, 12(4). e7541.

Salimi, N., Gere, B., Talley, W., & Irioogbe, B. (2023). College students mental health challenges: Concerns and considerations in the COVID-19 pandemic. Journal of College Student Psychotherapy, 37(1), 39-51.

Schunk, F., Trommsdorff, G., Wong, N., & Nakao, G. (2021). Associations between emotion regulation and life satisfaction among university students from Germany, Hong Kong, and Japan: The mediating role of social support. Frontiers in Psychology, 12, 745888.

Seligman, M. E. (2008). Positive health. Applied Psychology, 57, 3-18.

Smith, M. B., & Hobbs, N. (1966). The community and the community mental health center. American Psychologist, 21(6), 499–509.

Szkody, E., & McKinney, C. (2019). Stress-buffering effects of social support on depressive problems: Perceived vs. received support and moderation by parental depression. Journal of Child and Family Studies, 28, 2209-2219.

Şahin, N. H. & Durak, A. (2002). Kısa Semptom Envanteri (Brief Symptom Inventory-BSI): Türk gençleri için uyarlanması. Türk Psikoloji Dergisi, 9(31), 44-56.

Talwar, P., Kumaraswamy, N., & AR, M. F. (2013). Perceived social support, stress and gender differences among university students: A cross sectional study. Malaysian Journal of Psychiatry, 22(2), 42-49.

Tay, L., & Diener, E. (2011). Needs and subjective well-being around the world. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 101(2), 354–365.

Turner, R. J., Frankel, B. G., & Levin, D. M. (1983). Social support: Conceptualization, measurement, and implications for mental health. Research in Community & Mental Health, 3, 67–111.

Uysal, R., Satici, S. A., Satici, B., & Akin, A. (2014). Subjective vitality as mediator and moderator of the relationship between life satisfaction and subjective happiness. Educational Sciences: Theory and Practice, 14(2), 489-497.

Watson, R., Gardiner, E., Hogston, R., Gibson, H., Stimpson, A., Wrate, R., & Deary, I. (2009). A longitudinal study of stress and psychological distress in nurses and nursing students. Journal of Clinical Nursing, 18(2), 270-278.

Wörfel, F., Gusy, B., Lohmann, K., Töpritz, K., & Kleiber, D. (2016). Mental health problems among university students and the impact of structural conditions. Journal of Public Health, 24, 125-133.

Yalçın, İ. (2011). Social support and optimism as predictors of life satisfaction of college students. International Journal for the Advancement of Counselling, 33, 79-87.

Zhou, M., & Lin, W. (2016). Adaptability and life satisfaction: The moderating role of social support. Frontiers in Psychology, 7, 1134.

Zimet, G. D., Powell, S. S., Farley, G. K., Werkman, S., & Berkoff, K. A. (1990). Psychometric characteristics of the multidimensional scale of perceived social support. Journal of Personality Assessment, 55(3-4), 610-617.




How to Cite

Dadandı, İbrahim, & Çıtak, Şenel. (2023). Psychological Distress Mediates the Relationship Between Social Support and Satisfaction with Life: The Mediating Role of Psychological Distress. International Journal of Contemporary Educational Research, 10(3), 724–734.