Understanding the social determinants of mental health of undergraduate students in Bangladesh: Interview study

Ananya Bhattacharjee, S M Taiabul Haque, Abdul Hady, S.M. Raihanul Alam, Mashfiqui Rabbi, Ashad Kabir, Syed Ishtiaque Ahmed

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5 Citations (Scopus)
30 Downloads (Pure)


Background: The undergraduate student population has been actively studied in digital mental health research. However, the existing literature primarily focuses on students from high-income nations, and undergraduates from limited-income nations remain understudied. Objective: This study aims to identify the broader social determinants of mental health among undergraduate students in Bangladesh, a limited-income nation in South Asia; study the manifestation of these determinants in their day-to-day lives; and explore the feasibility of self-monitoring tools in helping them identify the specific factors or relationships that affect their mental health. Methods: We conducted a 21-day study with 38 undergraduate students from 7 universities in Bangladesh. We conducted 2 semistructured interviews: one prestudy and one poststudy. During the 21-day study, participants used an Android app to self-report and self-monitor their mood after each phone conversation. The app prompted participants to report their mood after each phone conversation and provided graphs and charts so that the participants could independently review their mood and conversation patterns. Results: Our results show that academics, family, job and economic condition, romantic relationship, and religion are the major social determinants of mental health among undergraduate students in Bangladesh. Our app helped the participants pinpoint the specific issues related to these factors, as the participants could review the pattern of their moods and emotions from past conversation history. Although our app does not provide any explicit recommendation, the participants took certain steps on their own to improve their mental health (eg, reduced the frequency of communication with certain persons). Conclusions: Although some of the factors (eg, academics) were reported in previous studies conducted in the Global North, this paper sheds light on some new issues (eg, extended family problems and religion) that are specific to the context of the Global South. Overall, the findings from this study would provide better insights for researchers to design better solutions to help the younger population from this part of the world.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere27114
Pages (from-to)1-16
Number of pages16
JournalJMIR Formative Research
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - 02 Nov 2021


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  • University of Toronto

    Ashad Kabir (Visiting researcher)

    11 Apr 2018

    Activity: Visiting an external institutionVisiting an external organisationAcademic

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