Social Support Moderates the Association between Co-curricular/Extracurricular Activity and Mental Illness Symptoms




Ridder, Robert

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Research has found that co-curricular and extracurricular activity and social support minimize depression and anxiety symptoms in college student populations. However, no studies have examined the interaction between social support and co-/extracurriculars in predicting mental illness. We collected self-report data from college seniors (N = 607) at a private Christian institution on involvement in various co-/extracurricular activities, social support from adults and peers, and depression, anxiety, and stress symptoms. Main effects indicated that sports/exercise and peer support were associated with lower levels of all three mental illness symptoms. Moderated regression analyses found three significant interactions. Staff support moderated the association between church attendance and depression, faculty support moderated the association between socializing with friends and anxiety, and non-university-affiliated adult support moderated the association between sports/exercise and anxiety symptoms. These results suggest that the mental health benefits of participating in certain activities may be enhanced by different sources of social support. Keywords: co-curricular, extracurricular, social support, mental illness, college students, higher education



Psychology, Higher education