|The purpose of this study was to describe the characteristics of parental involvement and mental health in a sample of traditionally aged college students and investigate the variance parental involvement predicts in mental health. Five hundred and eighty-eight freshmen at a large research university responded to a 97 question survey. Parental involvement was broken into parental involvement in college choice, social involvement, academic involvement, student satisfaction with parental involvement, frequency of contact, and frequency of visits. Mental health was constructed of emotional well-being, psychological well-being, and social well-being. Demographic information was also collected. Independent sample t-tests, one-way analyses of variance, multiple analyses of variance, and backward multiple regression analyses were performed to analyze the results.
The average parental involvement score for the entire sample was 59.96 on a 100 point scale. The most parental involvement occurred in students’ social involvement followed by college choice then academic involvement. The average satisfaction score was 70.16 on a 100 point scale. Participants communicated with their parents an average of 9.99 times per week and visited an average of 7.06 times per semester. The average mental health score was 71.10 on a 100 point scale. In the sample, 59.7% were moderately mentally healthy followed by 30.4% who were flourishing and 9.9% who were languishing.
A multiple regression analysis revealed that 9% of the variance in mental health was accounted for by parental involvement for the entire sample and 14% for females. Implications of the study include: parental involvement does impact mental health status, especially in regards to students’ satisfaction with their parents’ involvement. Higher education institutions need to continue to find more ways to purposefully include parents in students’ social and academic lives at college and create opportunities for parents and their students to communicate openly about their changing relationship.