A new study suggests a good education may not improve your chances of happiness.
University of Warwick researchers In the U.K. reviewed socioeconomic factors related to high mental well-being, such as level of education and personal finances.
The study is published in the British Journal of Psychiatry.
It has been shown that low educational attainment is strongly associated with mental illness. In the new study, researchers wanted to find out if higher educational attainment is linked with mental well-being.
The team found that higher levels of educational attainment had similar odds of high mental well-being as lower levels of education.
High mental well-being was defined as “feeling good and functioning well.” People with high levels of mental well-being manage to feel happy and contented with their lives more often than those who don’t because of the way they manage problems and challenges especially in relationships with others.
Lead author Professor Sarah Stewart-Brown said, “These findings are quite controversial because we expected to find the socioeconomic factors that are associated with mental illness would also be correlated with mental well-being.
So if low educational attainment was strongly associated with mental illness, high educational attainment would be strongly connected to mental well-being. But that is not the case.”
Other surprising results from the study included high levels of mental well-being among Afro-Caribbeans, especially men.
Stewart-Brown said, “Given the well-recognized association between ethnicity and detention under the Mental Health Act and the more general associations between mental illness and ethnicity, we were very surprised to find substantially increased odds of high mental well-being among minority ethnic groups, particularly African and African-Caribbean, Indian, and Pakistani groups.”
The team used existing data from the Health Survey for England (HSE) for 2010 and 2011 in which the Warwick-Edinburgh Mental Wellbeing Scale (WEMWBS) was administered to 17,030 survey participants across both years.
Stewart-Brown added that the correlates of high mental well-being are different from those of low mental well-being, but the latter closely mirror the correlates of mental illness.
She said, “Assumptions about socioeconomic determinants made in planning public mental health programs focusing on the prevention of mental illness may therefore not be applicable to programs aiming to increase mental well-being.”
Source: University of Warwick