ISSN 1671-3710
CN 11-4766/R

Advances in Psychological Science ›› 2022, Vol. 30 ›› Issue (5): 953-964.doi: 10.3724/SP.J.1042.2022.00953

• Section: Prevalence of mental health problems of Chinese students •     Next Articles

Prevalence of mental health problems among primary school students in Chinese mainland from 2010 to 2010:A meta-analysis

HUANG Xiaoxiao1, ZHANG Yali1, YU Guoliang2()   

  1. 1School of Education, Renmin University of China, Beijing 100872, China
    2Institute of Psychology, Renmin University of China, Beijing 100872, China
  • Received:2021-08-25 Online:2022-05-15 Published:2022-03-24
  • Contact: YU Guoliang


In recent years, the age of mental health problems shows a descending trend. Primary school students, as a special group in the critical stage of personal growth, are experiencing increased mental health problems that has caught wide attention from society. If the mental health problems of primary school students are not screened, prevented, and intervened in time, they may develop into lifelong mental diseases, which are difficult to redress and treat. Hence, as the basic premise of improving mental health, it is particularly important to find out the prevalence of pupils' mental health problems, so as to understand their real mental health status, and make targeted detection and intervention in the future.
However, the prevalence of primary school students' mental health problems described in literature shows inconsistent results, and the prevalence varied greatly, which has brought confusion to mental health educators and workers. Although some researchers tried to use meta-analysis to quantitatively integrate the existing research findings, avoid the influence of biased samples, demographic characteristics, and other factors, and attempt to explore the detection rate of primary school students’ mental health problems objectively and accurately, there were still some deficiencies. Firstly, it only revealed the prevalence of some mental health problems, and did not cover more comprehensive mental health problems. Secondly, it did not specifically analyze the mental health problems in recent 10 years. Finally, the inclusion and discussion of regulatory variables were not specific enough. Therefore, based on the research results in recent 10 years, it is necessary to integrate the prevalence of primary school students' mental health problems and explore its influencing factors by using meta-analysis method.
In order to clarify the debate on the different prevalence of primary school students' mental health problems, we analyzed and estimated the detection rate of primary school students' mental health problems in mainland China from 2010 to 2020 and investigated its moderation effects. The meta-analysis technology was used to retrieve the research on anxiety, depression, somatization, withdrawal, sleep problems, aggressive and discipline behaviors in Chinese National Knowledge Infrastructure database and Web of Science core collection database from 2010 to 2020. Finally, a total of 101 research and 289396 primary school students were obtained: 9 articles about anxiety, 34 articles about depression, 12 articles about somatization, 10 articles about withdrawal, 11 articles about sleep problems, 13 articles about aggressive behavior, and 12 articles about disciplinary behavior. The software Comprehensive Meta-Analysis Version 3.3 and the random effect model was selected for analysis.The results showed that (1) The prevalence of mental health problems in primary school students from high to low were sleep problems (25.2%, 95%CI = [0.16, 0.37]), depression (14.6%, 95%CI = [0.12, 0.18]), anxiety (12.3%, 95%CI = [0.06, 0.23]), aggressive behavior (4.1%, 95%CI = [0.02, 0.10]), withdrawal (3.8%, 95%CI = [0.02, 0.06]), disciplinary behavior (3.7%, 95%CI = [0.02, 0.07]) and somatization (3.6%, 95%CI = [0.02, 0.07]); (2) Measurement tools, measurement standards and detection period were the key factors causing the fluctuation of prevalence of mental health problems among primary school students in China. Generally speaking, the overall mental health status of primary school students in China is acceptable except that the prevalence of sleep problems, depression and anxiety are high. In the future, we should develop mental health assessment tools and detection standards suitable for Chinese primary school students to provide support for the prevention and accurate intervention of mental health problems.

Key words: primary school students, mental health problems, prevalence, meta-analysis