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Study reveals that students with lower academic performance develop depressive symptoms

Study suggests importance of sensitizing universities and teachers to promote more adaptive strategies.

Students who have a lower academic performance have a worse perception of their physical and mental health, compared to students who have a higher academic performance, concludes the study by Universidade Portucalense (UPT) on “Physical and mental health of higher education students: influence of academic performance and strategies to deal with success and failure”, by Patrícia Ferreira Costa, master in Clinical and Health Psychology.

According to the study carried out with 113 higher education students, who were enrolled in a degree or integrated master’s degree and which evaluated the physical and mental health of higher education students and their relationship with academic performance, it was noticeable that, when students have a lower academic performance, there is a greater propensity to perceive less physical and mental health.

“In fact, when the student is faced with bad results, this can produce negative emotions and cognitive attributions that, consequently, turn into depressive symptoms”, says the author.

However, academic performance did not prove to be a significant predictor of the perception of general health, when also analyzing the predictive effect of different strategies to deal with success and failure.

The results obtained suggest the importance of sensitizing university institutions and teachers to the importance of promoting more adaptive strategies to deal with success and failure, thus contributing to better student health, in addition to the focus on academic performance.

“When the student attributes success to intellectual capacity, he will make a favorable judgment of himself, feeling proud and competent for the future. If you give failure to your intellectual capacity, you may experience shame, a feeling of incompetence, including depression, which may manifest itself in the future, namely affecting your motivation and academic performance. Academic performance is a very important aspect throughout the university course, and it can have an impact on different areas of the student’s life”, adds Patrícia Ferreira da Costa.

From the results obtained, it is also evident that students who reveal more positive strategies of pride and happiness, motivation for success and failure have a better perception of general health, less limitations due to physical health and more energy and less tiredness, compared to students who mention more negative coping strategies of embarrassment, sadness, self-deprecation, giving up, avoidance, narcissism and indifference in the face of success and failure that reveal, in turn, a lower perception of their general health, greater limitations due to physical health and greater tiredness and less energy.

Those who have more negative coping strategies in the face of success or failure also demonstrate less emotional well-being and giving up on the quality and quantity of activities at the social level.

Considering the existing information and the results of this study, the author considers that “it would be very important on the part of university institutions to create measures to enable psychological and psycho-pedagogical support to their students, along their academic path, towards development of more positive and adaptive strategies to deal with academic results.

The promotion of physical and mental health among university students, through health education programs, is very important, as well as making them aware of how to deal with academic success and failure, alerting them to the impact that negative coping strategies can have on the individual’s physical and mental health. It is also considered important to work, with the teachers of the institutions, incentive strategies that they can implement with their students in order to reduce their negative reactions to academic failure”.

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