Relationship satisfaction linked to better mental health, says Australian study

Finances and general demographics account for 3% and 2% of mental health variation, respectively.


A new study published in the open-access journal PLOS ONE has found that marriage and relationship perceptions significantly impact mental health. The study, conducted by Bernard Kwadwo Yeboah Asiamah-Asare and colleagues, analyzed data gathered from almost 7,000 Australian adults and underscored the importance of understanding the role of relationships in mental health.

According to the study, adults who report a good relationship that meets their original expectations tend to score higher in mental health. Conversely, individuals who report loving their spouse but wished they had never entered the relationship and note relationship problems tend to score significantly lower in mental health.

The study highlights the need for more research to investigate possible confounding factors and more policy attention toward the social determinants of poor mental health, especially nuptiality or relationship perceptions.

The authors note that the finding of love not being enough to boost mental health scores in people experiencing relationship difficulties was surprising and unexpected. This underscores the importance of understanding the complex interplay between social determinants and mental health.

The study was based on data gathered from the most recent iteration of the Household, Income and Labour Dynamics in Australia (HILDA) survey. The respondents were mostly older than 42, born in Australia, and married, with an almost even gender split.

Approximately 7 percent of the respondents had poor mental health as indicated by the survey. Two percent of the variation in mental health scores could be attributed to demographic characteristics. In comparison, three percent of the variation in mental health scores could be linked to financial difficulty.

Overall, the study highlights the need for policymakers and mental health professionals to pay more attention to the social determinants of mental health, including marriage and relationship perceptions. By understanding these factors more holistically, it may be possible to develop more effective interventions and support systems for individuals experiencing mental health difficulties.

Journal Reference:

  1. Yeboah Asiamah-Asare BK, Peprah P, Adu C, Ahinkorah BO, Addo IY (2024) Associations of nuptiality perceptions, financial difficulties, and socio-demographic factors with mental health status in Australian adults: Analysis of the Household, Income and Labour Dynamics in Australia (HILDA) survey. PLoS ONE 19(2): e0296941. DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0296941


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