The relationship between the Students’ Mental Health and Dormitory Physical Environment (Case Study: Female Student Dormitory of Shahid Beheshti University)

Document Type : Research Paper


Faculty of Architecture and Urban Planning, Shahid Beheshti University, Tehran


Student housing is the most serious need for non-native students. By living far away from the family, these students lose the social support to their families and society and therefore they feel loneliness, depression, anxiety, and lack of attachment to the new environment. Students’ mental stability can be restored by comfort from a familiar home environment and support from their parents. Many students face various psychological and physical problems. Recent studies also indicate that there has been an increase in the absolute rate of mental ill-health and psychiatric disorders in students. In addition, unresolved loneliness can provide a source for depressive episodes. Depression can be manifested with a loss of interest, depressed mood, psychic anxiety, somatic anxiety, sleep, and painful physical symptoms. Students with depressive symptoms can affect all areas of functioning including motivation, concentration, feelings of self-worth and mood. Paying attention to factors affecting the mental health of dormitory students can play an important role in improving their mental, emotional and functional status. Improving the mental health in the dormitory leads the students to become better adapted to the new environment and to share their passion for living with others. The main objective of this research is to investigate the factors affecting the mental health of female students living in dormitories. This cross-sectional study was conducted on 310 female students of the dormitory of Shahid Beheshti University. The instruments for collecting data were the demographic checklist and General Health Questionnaire (GHQ-28). The GHQ-28 is one of the most widely used and validated questionnaires to screen for emotional distress and possible psychiatric morbidity. It consists of four 7-item subscales: “Somatic symptoms” (GHQ-A), “Anxiety & insomnia” (GHQ-B), “Social dysfunctions” (GHQ-C) and “Severe depression” (GHQ-D). There are different methods to score the GHQ-28. It can be scored from 0 to 3 for each response with a total possible score on the ranging from 0 to 84. Numerous studies have investigated reliability and validity of the GHQ-28 in various clinical populations. Test-retest reliability has been reported to be high (0.78 to 0.90) and inter-rater and intra-rater reliability have both been shown to be excellent (Cronbach’s α 0.90 - 0.95). During the first stage, we conducted the presentation of written informed consent. Statistical analysis was done by t-test and ANOVA using SPPSS, version 22. Means and standard deviations were calculated for sub-scale scores of each group. The p-value of < 0.05 were considered the level of statistical significance difference. The results show that there is a statistically significant difference between the two types of dormitory buildings in the subscales of mental health (somatic symptoms, anxiety and insomnia, social dysfunction, and depression); so that residents of buildings 1 and 2 (apartment form) have more mental health than residents of blocks 3 and 4 (linear form). Dormitory’s functional and physical characteristics have a significant relationship with students’ mental health. The architectural design of the student dormitory can increase the vitality and comfort of students living in dormitories.


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