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depression, resilience, stress, stress management self-efficacy, student



  1. Sawatzky, Richard G.
  2. Ratner, Pamela A.
  3. Richardson, Chris G.
  4. Washburn, Cheryl
  5. Sudmant, Walter
  6. Mirwaldt, Patricia


Background: The prevalence of mental health issues appears to be increasing. Stress that leads to depression may be mediated if people believe that they have the wherewithal to manage it.


Objective: The aim of this study was to examine the extent to which the relationship between adverse stress and depression is mediated by university students' perceived ability to manage their stress.


Method: Students were sampled randomly at a Canadian university in 2006 (n = 2,147) and 2008 (n = 2,292). Data about students' stress (1 item), depression (4 items), stress management self-efficacy (4 items), and their demographics were obtained via the online National College Health Assessment survey and analyzed using confirmatory factor analysis and latent variable mediation modeling.


Results: Greater stress management self-efficacy was associated with lower depression scores for students whose stress impeded their academic performance, irrespective oftheir gender and age (total R2depression = 41%). The relationship between stress and depression was mediated partially by stress management self-efficacy (37% to 55% mediation, depending on the severity of stress).


Conclusions: Identifying students with limited stress management self-efficacy and providing them with appropriate supportive services may help them to manage stress and prevent depression.