Education Doesn't Guarantee Happiness

Mental well-being similar across socioeconomic levels, study finds

SUNDAY, April 5, 2015 (HealthDay News) -- Being well-educated doesn't necessarily mean you'll be happy with your life, a new British study suggests.

Previous research has found a strong link between low levels of education and mental illness, the authors of the new study said. So, they wanted to find out if levels of education were associated with mental well-being, defined as "feeling good and functioning well."

People with high levels of mental well-being are more likely to feel happy and contented with their lives because of the way they deal with problems and challenges, particularly relationship issues, the University of Warwick researchers explained.

The researchers analyzed the responses of more than 17,000 people in England. They were surveyed in 2010 and 2011.

People with varying levels of education had similar odds of having high levels of mental well-being.

The study was published recently in the British Journal of Psychiatry.

"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," lead author Sarah Stewart-Brown, a professor at the University of Warwick, said in a university news release.

"Assumptions about socioeconomic determinants (such as education and income levels) made in planning public mental health programmes focusing on the prevention of mental illness may therefore not be applicable to programs aiming to increase mental well-being," she added.

More information

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