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 Table of Contents  
Year : 2019  |  Volume : 24  |  Issue : 2  |  Page : 85-90

Effects of psychological capital and self-esteem on emotional and behavioral problems among adolescents

Department of Psychiatric Social Work, LGB Regional Institute of Mental Health, Tezpur, Assam, India

Date of Web Publication22-Jul-2020

Correspondence Address:
Arif Ali
Assistant Professor, Department of Psychiatric Social Work, LGB Regional Institute of Mental Health, Tezpur-784001
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/jmhhb.jmhhb_59_19

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Background: Psychological capital (PsyCap) and self-esteem can potentially affect mental health among adolescents and can be used effectively to cope with stress. Aim and Objectives: The purpose of this study was to evaluate the association between PsyCap, self-esteem, emotional, and behavioral problems and to determine the extent to which PsyCap and self-esteem predict the variability in the emotional and behavioral problems of school-going adolescents. Methodology: The present study was cross-sectional, and schools were selected using purposive sampling technique. A total of 387 samples were included based on the Krejcie and Morgan method to determine the sample size. Sociodemographic datasheet, PsyCap Questionnaire, Rosenberg Self-Esteem Scale, and Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire (self-report) were administered. Results: The prevalence of emotional and behavioral problems was found to be 21.6% (abnormal level), and self-esteem had a negative correlation with emotional and behavioral problems (r = −0.208 P < 0.01) and a positive correlation with PsyCap (r = 0.409; P < 0.01). Self-esteem was found to be a significant predictor for emotional and behavioral problems. Conclusion: Emotional and behavioral problems of the adolescent population are closely related to self-esteem and PsyCap. Building PsyCap and self-esteem can strengthen the mental health of adolescents.

Keywords: Adolescent, emotional and behavioral problems, psychological capital, school, self-esteem

How to cite this article:
Gujar NM, Ali A. Effects of psychological capital and self-esteem on emotional and behavioral problems among adolescents. J Mental Health Hum Behav 2019;24:85-90

How to cite this URL:
Gujar NM, Ali A. Effects of psychological capital and self-esteem on emotional and behavioral problems among adolescents. J Mental Health Hum Behav [serial online] 2019 [cited 2023 Jun 4];24:85-90. Available from: https://www.jmhhb.org/text.asp?2019/24/2/85/290521

  Introduction Top

Psychological capital (PsyCap) plays a significant role to protect their well-being. PsyCap is a positive psychological resource that has emerged from the positive psychology movement.[1] PsyCap is a positive resource that can be used to enhance an individual's psychological well-being. PsyCap can be understood as an individual's positive state of development that is characterized by the four higher-order constructs or capabilities which are hope, self-efficacy, resiliency, and optimism.[1],[2]

The important life domains are at risk of having a negative outcome if adolescent and young adulthood faces low self-esteem.[3] Mann et al.[4] illustrated that self-esteem can lead to better health and social behavior and that poor self-esteem is associated with a broad range of mental disorders and social problems. Ross and Broh[5] reported self-worth found to be a positive factor for adolescents to perform well in school. Self-esteem stabilizes and motivates individuals to form and maintain relationships.[6]

The World Health Organization[7] defined adolescence between 11 and 19 years. This age group faces considerable physical, psychological, and social changes in the development from childhood to adulthood. Adolescence is especially considered to be a period of vulnerability for most young people as they often participate in high-risk behaviors.[8],[9] Preventing the development of such problems becomes easier in the early stages of life than in the later periods of life. Conduct problem, hyperactivity, anxiety disorder, depression, and other mood disorders and behavioral and cognitive disorders are the most common problems prevalent among adolescents.[10] Kieling et al.[11] reported that 10% of children and 20% of adolescents worldwide face mental health problems. In the community based studies prevalence of mental health problems was seen in 6.46 % of children and adolescents, whereas in school based studies, it was found to be 23.33%.[12] The prevalence of mental disorders in the age group of 13–17 years is 7.3% and nearly equal in both genders. Nearly 9.8 million young Indians aged between 13 and 17 years are in need of active interventions.[13] Emotional, behavioral, and adjustment problems go untreated and undiagnosed for years as it has beginning in adolescence.[14],[15],[16]

Thus, the purpose of this study is to establish the relationship between PsyCap and self-esteem in order to determine the mental health status (emotional and behavioral problems) among school-going adolescents. The previous studies highlighted the mental health issues among school-going adolescents from Northeast India. Keyho et al.[17] did a study on 702 adolescents from two private schools and one government school in Kohima district of Nagaland. The study used the Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire (SDQ) (total difficulties score) and found 17.2% of prevalence of mental health problems. The another study investigated emotional and behavioral problems among 437 school-going adolescents for which four government schools placed in tea garden area of Tingkhong block, Dibrugarh district of Assam were selected. The study found the prevalence of the emotional problem (5.9%), conduct problem (28.2%), hyperactivity (6.5%), peer problem (15.3%), and prosocial behavior (12.4%) among tea tribe origin adolescents.[18] The ten schools from Tezpur, Assam, were studied to see the mental health status among adolescents. The study used SDQ (self-report questionnaire) on total of 1403 adolescents, and 31.6% of prevalence was reported. This study reported that academic performance and socioeconomic status were strong predictors for mental health among adolescents.[19] There is dearth of study seen in this area to see PsyCap, self-esteem, emotional, and behavioral problems among adolescents together in the school population, especially in the northeast part of India.

To reiterate, empirical and theoretical research suggests that the examination of PsyCap and self-esteem in the context of mental health status of adolescence is crucial. The purpose of this study was to evaluate the association between PsyCap, self-esteem, emotional, and behavioral problems among school-going adolescents and to determine the extent to which PsyCap and self-esteem predict the variability in the emotional and behavioral problems of school-going adolescents.

  Methodology Top

The present study was cross-sectional, and convenience sampling was used to select schools (two private schools) from Tezpur, Assam. School-going adolescents aged between 13 and 19 years were included in the study. The krejcie and Morgan[20] was followed to determine the sample size, a total of 387 samples were included for assessment, out of 387 responses 17 responses could not include due to the incomplete datasheet. A total of 370 participants were included in the study. Permission was taken from school authority, and the participants were informed about the purpose of the study. Informed consent was taken from the participants. Sociodemographic datasheet, PsyCap Questionnaire, Rosenberg Self-Esteem Scale (RSS), and SDQ (self-report) were administered. The study was undertaken with the approval of the Scientific Committee and Institute Ethics Committee of LGBRIMH, Tezpur.


Sociodemographic pro forma was constructed for the purpose of this study with domains such as age, sex, class, family details, and other details.

Strengths and difficulties questionnaire (SDQ)[21] is a brief behavioral screening standardized questionnaire for measuring emotional and behavioral disorders in children and adolescents. The SDQ is a structured questionnaire that is used for screening the child and adolescent psychiatric problems and contains 25 questions that consist of 5 subscales including emotional, hyperactivity, relationship, and conduct problems and pro-social behaviors with 5 items in each. The sum of the first four subscales consists of the total difficulty score. The questionnaire has 3 forms: parent report, teacher report, and self-report. For the present study, the self-report questionnaire was used. The SDQ self-report helped to assess the adolescents' self-perceived behavioral and emotional problems. SDQ self-report version cannot give clinical diagnosis but can help to investigate emotional and behavioral problems among school-going adolescents. This tool is an easy and effective method to screen children with mental health problems in the developing nation.[22]

Psychological capital questionnaire-PsyCap-24[1] is a measure that includes 24 items which are divided into subcategories, namely self-efficacy, optimism, resiliency, and hope. Each item in the scale rated on Likert scale from 1 (strongly disagree) to 6 (strongly agree). It gives a total score with sum of the subscale score with reverse coding of relevant items. The Cronbach's alpha coefficient (0.846) for the Psychological Capital Questionnaire was good.[1]

Rosenberg self-esteem scale (RSS)[23] is a measures global self-esteem. The 10 items of the RSS see the level of overall feelings of self-worth and self-acceptance in the adolescent. The items are answered on a four-point scale ranging from 1 (strongly agree) to 4 (strongly disagree). Reverse items are 3, 5, 8, 9, and 10. The possible total score obtained from the scale ranges between 0 and 40. The higher score indicates higher self-esteem.

Statistical analysis

The statistical analyses were done with the help of the Statistical Package for the Social Sciences (25.0 version), SPSS South Asia Pvt. Ltd., Bangalore, India. Categorical data (sex, religion, ethnicity, residence, and family type) were analyzed using frequencies and percentages. Furthermore, the prevalence of mental health status was assessed using frequencies and percentages. The relationship between PsyCap score, self-esteem, and mental health status score was analyzed using Pearson correlation. Multiple regression analysis was used to see the predictor of mental health status.

  Results Top

The mean age of the participants was 14.53 years, and the standard deviation was 1.176. It was found that more than half (51.6%) of the participants were male (n = 191), whereas 48.4% of the participants were female (n = 179). In the study, majority of the participants belonged to Hinduism with 91.1% which was followed by Islam with 7%, whereas very few were from Christian with 1.1% and the least which was 0.8% from other communities. The majority of the participants were nontribal with 86.5%, whereas 13.5% of the participants were from tribal ethnicity. Majority of the respondents that is 44.3% were from urban background, whereas 35.9% were from semi-urban and 19.7% were from a rural background, and majority of the participants 67.3% were from nuclear family, whereas 29.7% were from joint family and 3% from extended family.

The SDQ was used to assess mental health status (emotional and behavioral problems). The findings showed that 19.7% of the participants had a borderline level and 19.2% at the abnormal level of conduct problems. Similarly, in hyperactivity problem, 21.4% were at the borderline level and almost the same that is 21.1% at an abnormal level. In the emotional problem, 8.1% were at the borderline level and 12.4% were at an abnormal level, whereas in peer problem, 44.3% of the participants were at the borderline level and 21.1% were at an abnormal level. In prosocial behavior, 14.3% of the participants were in borderline and 4.6% were at an abnormal level. The prevalence of mental health status on the basis of total difficulties score was found to be 21.6% at the abnormal level, whereas 31.4% was at the borderline level [Table 1].
Table 1: Prevalence of emotional and behavioral problems among school-going adolescents on the basis of Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire

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[Table 2] shows a correlation of PsyCap and self-esteem with SDQ (total difficulties score). The findings revealed that conduct problems had a significant negative correlation with PsyCap (r = −0.118; P < 0.05) and self-esteem (r = −0.116; P < 0.05). Emotional problems showed a significant negative correlation with PsyCap (r = −0.147; P < 0.01) and self-esteem (r = −.372; P < 0.01). Prosocial behavior showed a significant positive correlation with PsyCap (r = 0.186; P < 0.01) and self-esteem (r = 0.183; P <.01). SDQ total difficulties score was found to have a significant negative correlation with self-esteem (r = −0.208; P < 0.01).
Table 2: Correlation of psychological capital and self.esteem with Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire (total difficulties score)

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Self-esteem was found to have a significant positive correlation with PsyCap (r = 0.409; P < 0.05). Hyperactivity had a positive correlation with PsyCap (r = 0.045) and self-esteem (r = 0.042). Peer problem had a positive correlation with PsyCap (r = 0.068) and a negative correlation with self-esteem (r = −0.025). SDQ total difficulties score had a negative correlation with PsyCap (r = −0.071).

As Keith[24] writes, researchers also must not ignore the magnitude of effects when reporting statistical significance in regression analyses. The value of β, therefore, is listed among the regression coefficients. Using Keith's[24] guidelines for judging the magnitude of effects, we can say that β below 0.05 is too small to be considered meaningful. A β above 0.05 but <0.10 is small but meaningful. Furthermore, β from 0.10 to 0.25 is considered moderate and above 0.25 is considered large. In this study, an evaluation of the β values for variables in the regression models was important for interpreting the effect sizes of the variables which are statistical significance in predicting mental health status (emotional and behavioral problems on SDQ total difficulties score) of school-going adolescents. A linear analysis one out of two variables yielded the best model in predicting mental health was overall self-esteem, R2= 0.044, F (2, 368) = 8.365, P < 0.001. The high effect size of self-esteem (B = −0.251; P < 0.001) found to predict emotional and behavioral problems among school children. The adjusted R2 for the model was 0.038, indicating that the self-esteem accounts for about 4.4% of the variance in mental health status (emotional and behavioral problems on SDQ total difficulties score) [Table 3].
Table 3: Regression analysis of psychological capital and self.esteem on Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire (total difficulties score)

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  Discussion Top

In the present study, PsyCap was found to have a negative relationship with SDQ total difficulties score (i.e., emotional and behavioral problems) and positive relationships found with self-esteem. Luthans et al.[1] defined self-efficacy, optimism, hope, and resiliency as core characteristics of PsyCap. It protects individuals with adversity and pressure. Studies have found that PsyCap is associated with a mental health issue such as depression, anxiety, stress, and self-esteem.[25],[26] PsyCap helps the individual to become successful through the adoption of positive resources such as self-efficacy, optimism, hope, and resiliency.[27] Singh and Mansi[28] found that PsyCap acts as a predictor of psychological well-being. Self-efficacy, optimistic attitude, and locus of control affect the well-being in a meaningful way in the individuals. PsyCap (hope, efficacy resilience, and optimism) was found to be a better predictor of mental health.[29] Aliyev and Karakus[30] in their study found that PsyCap reduces anxiety stress and burnout. There is evidence of a positive relationship between PsyCap self-esteem and well-being.[28],[31],[32]

Orth et al.[33] reported that high self-esteem is more likely to have higher well-being and satisfaction and low self-esteem prospectively predicts depression in adolescence and young adulthood. A study Leary et al.[34] also stated that low self-esteem is related to mental health issues among adolescents. Self-esteem plays a significant role in the development of a variety of mental disorders.[4] Studies also show that the self-esteem of adolescents is correlated with mental health and acts as a predictor of mental health.[35]

The prevalence of mental health status (self-perceived emotional and behavioral problems) on the basis of the SDQ total difficulties score was found to be 21.6% at the abnormal level, whereas 31.4% was at the borderline level. On the subcategory of mental health problems, participants had higher hyperactivity and peer problem (21.1% at abnormal level), closely followed by conduct problem (19.2% at abnormal level). 12.4% of the participants were at an abnormal level in the emotional problem and 4.6% of the participants were having an abnormal level in prosocial behavior. In a study conducted in Tezpur, Assam, it was found that the prevalence of mental health problems among school-going adolescents was 31.6% (23.8% in borderline range and 7.8% in abnormal range).[19] Dhoundiyal and Venkatesh[36] stated that two-thirds of the adolescences were in the abnormal range and borderline category as per the SDQ. Long et al.[37] found that 11% of the participants scored in the borderline range and 10.2% fell under the abnormal range in the domain of emotional problems. In conduct problem, 15.7% of the respondents were at a borderline level and 15.1% had scores indicating the abnormal range. In hyperactive behavior, 8.1% of the participants scored in the borderline range and 5.7% had abnormal range. In peer problems, 21.4% were in the borderline range and 5.2% of the participants reported severe problems compared to their peers. The findings indicate that the prevalence of mental health problems among school-going adolescents in this study is 31.6% (23.8% in borderline range and 7.8% in the abnormal range). In the survey study conducted by Ali and Eqbal[38] on the school-going tribal adolescents of the eastern part of India, it was found that emotional symptoms were present in 5.12% of the tribal students, conduct problems in 9.61%, hyperactivity in 4.23% of the students, and substantial peer problems found in 1.41% of the tribal students.

The results of linear regression analysis found that self-esteem predicts mental health status that is self-perceived emotional and behavioral problems (R2 = 0.044, F (2, 368) = 8.365, P < 0.001) and accounts for 4.4% of the variance in mental health score. Self-esteem has been researched most extensively in relation to mental health.[4],[33] Various studies have reported that self-esteem acts as a predictor for mental health.[39],[40],[41],[42],[43],[44]


The current study had some limitations; the present study findings cannot be considered as a clinical diagnosis but self-perceived emotional and behavioral problems by adolescents. This data were cross-sectional; therefore, it can have different responses on further assessment. The study used only self-reported assessment, whereas a parent or teacher version was not done as it may depict a clearer picture. Moreover, for measuring mental health (emotional and behavioral problems), only SDQ was administered, and other clinical assessments could help to have more understanding.

  Conclusion Top

Mental health issues are present in the school-going population. PsyCap offers a viable set of resources and mechanisms that can promote well-being, and it is closely associated with mental health. Self-esteem had a significant relationship with mental health and PsyCap. Enhancing self-esteem and PsyCap among adolescents can improve their mental health.


We like to acknowledge the help provided by participants to fill the datasheet and all the school authorities for giving permission to conduct a study.

Financial support and sponsorship


Conflicts of interest

There are no conflicts of interest.

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  [Table 1], [Table 2], [Table 3]

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