Integrating the ecological model and the wellness theory, this study investigated the relationship between depressive symptoms and personal factors (hopelessness, body image, social problem solving, emotional competence, life meaning, equanimity), peer factor (peer alienation) and family factor (childhood abuse and trauma) among college students in Hong Kong. Adopting a cross-sectional survey design, a total of 786 self-administered questionnaires based on convenience sampling (male= 67.2 %, female= 32.8%) were collected from eight youth colleges on Hong Kong Island, in Kowloon and the New Territories. Among them, 352 (44.8%) respondents reported having depressive symptoms (The Beck Depression Inventory scores 14 or above). The participants, with a mean age of 19.16, were Year 1 and Year 3 diploma students in the youth colleges in Hong Kong.
Analysis shows that college students with special education needs had a significantly higher level of depressive symptoms. Pearson correlation analysis shows that social problem solving and equanimity were negatively related to college student's depressive symptoms. At the same time, childhood abuse and trauma, peer alienation, and hopelessness were positively related to the student's depressive symptoms.
The mediation models, sequential mediation model, and moderated mediation models were tested in the study. In the mediation models, results show that peer alienation and hopelessness mediated the relation between the experience of childhood abuse and trauma and depressive symptoms independently. In the sequential mediation model, peer alienation and hopelessness sequentially mediated the relation between the experience of childhood abuse and trauma and depressive symptoms. In the moderated mediation model, social problem solving, and
equanimity moderated the indirect relation between the experience of childhood abuse and trauma and depressive symptoms via hopelessness and the sequential mediating effect of peer alienation and hopelessness.
The theoretical implications of the findings are that social problem solving, equanimity, childhood abuse and trauma, peer alienation, hopelessness can be considered as crucial building blocks in the models of college students' depressive symptoms. Practically speaking, to reduce the tendency for depressive symptoms among abused adolescents, it is important to strengthen peer relationships, reduce peer alienation, alleviate hopelessness, prevent childhood abuse and trauma, enhance social problem abilities, promote equanimity, and prevent mental health problems with reference to the integrated ecological and wellness model, which is proven to be important for reducing a tendency for depressive symptoms among abused adolescents. More longitudinal research with multiple informants, such as parents and teachers, is called for to explain how wellness factors may comprise additional moderation and mediating effects for the relationship between abused adolescents and their development.