Effects of Academic Stress and Perceived Social Support on the Psychological Wellbeing of Adolescents in Ghana


The purpose of this study was to examine how academic stress and perceived social support influence the psychological wellbeing of Senior High School students in Ghana. Two hundred and twenty six male and female students participated. The general health questionnaire, student life-stress inventory and perceived social support from family and friends scales were used to assess psychological wellbeing, academic stress and perceived social support respectively. The results indicated that perceived social support buffered the effects of academic stress on psychological wellbeing. Girls reported higher scores on perceived social support but reported more depression. Boys reported higher academic stress and better psychological wellbeing, and these have been attributed partly to the socialisation role of gender. These results have policy implications in respect of the creation of a cordial school environment as well as encouraging a healthy interpersonal relationship between adolescents and their family and friends with the aim of reducing academic stress appraisal which is inimical to the psychological wellbeing of adolescents.

Share and Cite:

F. N. Glozah, "Effects of Academic Stress and Perceived Social Support on the Psychological Wellbeing of Adolescents in Ghana," Open Journal of Medical Psychology, Vol. 2 No. 4, 2013, pp. 143-150. doi: 10.4236/ojmp.2013.24022.

Conflicts of Interest

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.


[1] M. K. Demaray and C. K. Maleck, “The Relationship between Perceived Social Support and Maladjustment for Students at Risk,” Psychology in the School, Vol. 39, No. 3, 2002, pp. 305-316.
[2] K. D Lincoln, L. M. Chatters and R. J. Taylor, “Psychological Distress among Black and White Americans: Differential Effects of Social Support, Negative Interaction and Personal Control,” Journal of Health and Social Behavior, Vol. 44, No. 3, 2003, pp. 390-407.
[3] I. Kawachi and L. F. Berkman, “Social Ties and Mental Health,” Journal of Urban Health: Bulletin of the New York Academy of Medicine, Vol. 78, No. 3, 2001, pp. 458-467.
[4] N. Krause and K. S. Rook, “Negative Interaction in Late Life: Issues in the Stability and Generalizability of Conflict across Relationship,” Journal of Gerontology: Psychological Sciences, Vol. 58B, No. 2, 2003, pp. 88-99. http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/geronb/58.2.P88
[5] D. J. Bell, S. L. Foster and E. J. Mash, “Handbook of Behavioral and Emotional Problems in Girls,” Kluwer Academic/Plenum Publishers, New York, 2005.
[6] W. R. Lovallo, “Stress and Health: Biological and Psychological Interactions,” Sage Publications, Thousand Oaks, 2005.
[7] E. Vaquera and G. Kao, “Do You Like Me as Much as I Like You? Friendship Reciprocity and Its Effects on School Outcomes among Adolescents,” Social Science Research, Vol. 37, No. 1, 2008, pp. 55-72. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.ssresearch.2006.11.002
[8] M. Bolognini, B. Plancherel, W. Bettschart and O. Halfon, “Self-Esteem and Mental Health in Early Adolescence: Development and Gender Differences,” Journal of Adolescence, Vol. 19, No. 3, 1996, pp. 233-245. http://dx.doi.org/10.1006/jado.1996.0022
[9] B. Levinger, “Nutrition, Health, and Education for All,” United Nations Development Programme, New York, 1994.
[10] B. N. Uchino, “Social Support and Physical Health: Understanding the Health Consequences of Relationships,” Yale University Press, New Haven, 2004.
[11] T. Field, M. Diego and C. Sanders, “Adolescents’ Parent and Peer Relationship,” Adolescence, Vol. 37, No. 145, 2002, pp. 121-130.
[12] B. K. Finch and W. A. Vega, “Acculturation Stress, Social Support, and Self-Rated Health among Latinos in California,” Journal of Immigrant Health, Vol. 5, No. 3, 2003, pp. 109-117. http://dx.doi.org/10.1023/A:1023987717921
[13] S. Cohen and T. A. Wills, “Stress, Social Support, and the Buffering Hypothesis,” Psychological Bulletin, Vol. 98, No. 2, 1985, pp. 310-357. http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/0033-2909.98.2.310
[14] S. Cohen, “Social Relationships and Health,” American Psychologist, Vol. 1, No. 1, 2004, pp. 676-684. http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/0003-066X.59.8.676
[15] B. N. Uchino, J. T. Cacioppo and J. K. Kiecolt-Glaser, “The Relationship between Social Support and Physiological Processes: A Review with Emphasis on Underlying Mechanisms and Implications for Health,” Psychological Bulletin, Vo. 119, No. 3, 1996, pp. 488-531. http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/0033-2909.119.3.488
[16] S. Cohen and H. Hoberman, “Positive Events and Social Supports as Buffers of Life Change Stress,” Journal of Applied Social Psychology, Vol. 13, No. 2, 1983, pp. 99-125.
[17] A. Vaux, “Social support: Theory, Research, and Intervention,” Praeger, New York, 1988.
[18] C. Cheng, “Role of Perceived Social Support on Depression in Chinese Adolescents: A Prospective Study Examining the Buffering Model,” Journal of Applied Social Psychology, Vol. 27, No. 9, 1997, pp. 800-820. http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1559-1816.1997.tb00660.x
[19] R. W. Landow and D. S. Glenwick, “Stress and Coping in Homeless Children,” Journal of Social Distress and the Homeless, Vol. 8, No. 2, 1999, pp. 79-93. http://dx.doi.org/10.1023/A:1021394610436
[20] I. Kawachi and L. F. Berkman, “Social Cohesion, Social Capital, and Health,” In: L. F. Berman and I. Kawachi, Eds., Social Epidemiology, Oxford University Press, New York, 2000, pp. 174-190.
[21] G. E. Capowich, P. Mazerolle and A. Piquero, “General Strain Theory, Situational Anger, and Social Networks: An Assessment of Conditioning Influences,” Journal of Criminal Justice, Vol. 29, No. 5, 2001, pp. 445-461. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/S0047-2352(01)00101-5
[22] A. Baum, T. A. Revenson and J. E. Singer, Ed., “Hand-book of Health Psychology,” Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, New Jersey, 2001.
[23] S. Cohen, “Psychosocial Models of Social Support in the Etiology of Physical Disease,” Health Psychology, Vol. 7, No. 3, 1988, pp. 269-297. http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/0278-6133.7.3.269
[24] L. F. Berkman, “The Role of Social Relations in Health Promotion,” Psychosomatic Medicine, Vol. 57, No. 3, 1995, pp. 245-254.
[25] L. F. Berkman, T. Glass, I. Brissette and T. E. Seeman, “From Social Integration to Health: Durkheim in the New Millennium,” Social Science and Medicine, Vol. 51, No. 6, 2000, pp. 843-857. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/S0277-9536(00)00065-4
[26] E. Delistamati, M. A. Samakouri, E. A. Davis, T. Vorvolakos, K. Xenitidis and M. Livaditis, “Interpersonal Support Evaluation List (ISEL)—College Version: Validation and Application in a Greek Sample,” International Journal of Social Psychiatry, Vol. 52, No. 6, 2006, pp. 552-560.
[27] N. Lin, X. Ye and W. M. Ensel, “Social Support and Depressed Mood: A Structural Analysis,” Journal of Health and Social Behavior, Vol. 40, No. 4, 1999, pp. 344-359.
[28] T. A. Wills, G. McNamara D. Vaccaro, “Parental Education Related to Adolescent Stress-Coping and Substance Use: Development of a Mediational Model,” Health Psychology, Vol. 14, No. 5, 1995, pp. 464-478. http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/0278-6133.14.5.464
[29] R. D. Conger, K. J. Conger, G. H. Elder, F. O. Lorenz, R. L. Simons and L. B. Whitbeck, “Family Economic Stress and Adjustment of Early Adolescent Girls,” Developmental Psychology, Vol. 29, No. 2, 1993, pp. 206-219. http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/0012-1649.29.2.206
[30] A. Gecková, J. P. Van Dijk, R. Stewart, J. W. Groothoff and D. Post, “Influence of Social Support on Health among Gender and Socio-Economic Groups of Adolescents,” European Journal of Public Health, Vol. 13, No. 1, 2003, pp. 44-50. http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/eurpub/13.1.44
[31] B. M. Gadzella, “Student-Life Stress Inventory: Identification of and Reactions to Stressors,” Psychological Reports, Vol. 74, No. 2, 1994, pp. 395-402. http://dx.doi.org/10.2466/pr0.1994.74.2.395
[32] D. P. Goldberg, “The Detection of Psychiatric Illness by Questionnaire,” Oxford University Press, Oxford, 1972.
[33] M. Procidano and K. Heller, “Measures of Perceived Social Support from Friends and from Family: Three Validation Studies,” American Journal of Community Psychology, Vol. 11, No. 1, 1983, pp. 1-24. http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/BF00898416
[34] S. Henderson, “Social Relationships, Adversity, and Neurosis: An Analysis of Prospective Observations,” British Journal of Psychiatry, Vol. 138, No. 1, 1981, pp. 391-398.
[35] M. A. Hoffman, V. Ushpiz and R. Levy-Shiff, “Social Support and Self-Esteem in Adolescence,” Journal of Youth and Adolescence, Vol. 17, No. 4, 1988, pp. 307-316.
[36] H. B. Kaplan, C. Robbins and S. S. Martin, “Antecedents of Psychological Distress in Young Adults: Self-Rejection, Deprivation of Social Support, and Life Events,” Journal of Health and Social Behavior, Vol. 24, No. 3, 1983, pp. 230-244.
[37] H. C. Huang, K. K. Hwang and Y. H. Ko, “Life Stress, Attribution Style, Social Support, and Depression among University Students,” Acta Psychologica Taiwanica, Vol. 25, No. 1, 1983, pp. 31-47.
[38] R. S. Lazarus and S. Folkman, “Stress, Appraisal, and Coping,” Springer, New York, 1984.
[39] R. A. Thoits, “Social Support as Coping Assistance,” Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, Vol. 54, No. 4, 1986, pp. 416-423. http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/0022-006X.54.4.416
[40] B. L. Wilcox, “Social Support, Life Stress, and Psycho-Logical Adjustment: A Test of the Buffering Hypothesis,” American Journal of Community Psychology, Vol. 9, No. 4, 1981, pp. 371-386.
[41] V. M. Simonds and V. E. Whiffen, “Are Gender Differences in Depression Explained by Gender Differences in Co-Morbid Anxiety?” Journal of Affective Disorders, Vol. 77, No. 3, 2003, pp. 197-202. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/S0165-0327(02)00113-1
[42] B. Piko, “Social Support and Health in Adolescence: A Factor Analytical Study,” British Journal of Health Psychology, Vol. 3, No. 4, 1998, pp. 33-44. http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.2044-8287.1998.tb00578.x
[43] O. Olsen, L. Iversen and S. Sabore, “Age and the Operationalization of Social Support,” Social Science and Medicine, Vol. 32, No. 7, 1991, pp. 767-771. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/0277-9536(91)90302-S
[44] R. J. Turner, B. Wheaton and D. A. Lloyd, “The Epidemiology of Social Stress,” American Sociological Review, Vol. 60, No. 1, 1995, pp. 104-125. http://dx.doi.org/10.2307/2096348
[45] N. E. Mahon, A. Yarcheski and T. J. Yarcheski, “Differences in Social Support and Loneliness in Adolescents According to Developmental Stage and Gender,” Public Health Nursing, Vol. 11, No. 5, 1994, pp. 361-368. http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1525-1446.1994.tb00199.x
[46] J. G. Grzywacz, D. M. Almeida, S. D. Neupert and S. L. Ettner, “Socioeconomic Status and Health: A Micro-Level Analysis of Exposure and Vulnerability to Daily Stressors,” Journal of Health and Social Behavior, Vol. 45, No. 1, 2004, pp. 1-16.
[47] H. Brutsaert and M. Van Houtte, “Gender Context of Schooling and Levels of Stress among Early Adolescent Pupils,” Education and Urban Society, Vol. 37, No. 1, 2004, pp. 58-73.

Copyright © 2024 by authors and Scientific Research Publishing Inc.

Creative Commons License

This work and the related PDF file are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.