• Mental health of Irish students: Self-criticism as a complete mediator in mental health attitudes and caregiver identity

      Kotera, Yasuhiro; Maughan, Geraldine; Limerick Institute of Technology; University of Derby (Concurrent Disorders Society, 2020-02)
      Mental health is a concern in the Republic of Ireland, and in particular mental health of higher education students is challenging. Further, their poor mental health may be negatively impacted by their negative mental health attitudes and caregiver identity, which can yield high self-criticism and low self-reassurance. Accordingly, this study aimed to (i) elucidate the relationships among these five constructs, and (ii) assess the impact of self-criticism and self-reassurance in the relationship (a) between mental health attitudes and mental health, and (b) between caregiver identity and mental health. One-hundred twenty-nine Irish undergraduate students completed self-report measures regarding these constructs. Correlation and path analyses were conducted. Overall all variables were related to each other, in particular family-related shame subscales were strongly related to mental health problems. In path analysis, self-criticism completely mediated the relationship between mental health attitudes and mental health, while self-reassurance did not. Likewise, self-criticism also completely mediated the relationship between caregiver identity and mental health, while self-reassurance did not. The findings suggest the importance of self-criticism to their mental health. While current literature highlights the importance of mental health attitudes such as stigma and caregiver identity such as low self-awareness, our results indicated that it was their self-criticism that predicted poor mental health. Their mental health may be more effectively improved by targeting self-criticism. Compassion training, peer-support groups, and reframing were recommended to counter self-criticism. Our findings will help educators and researchers to identify an alternative and effective means to improve mental health in Irish students.