"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 wellbeing," said lead author Sarah Stewart-Brown, professor at University of Warwick in Britain.

"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," Stewart-Brown noted.

The researchers examined socioeconomic factors related to high mental wellbeing, such as level of education and personal finances. Low educational attainment is strongly associated with mental illness but the research team wanted to find out if higher educational attainment is linked with mental wellbeing.

The team found all levels of educational attainment had similar odds of high mental well-being.High mental wellbeing was defined as 'feeling good and functioning well'. People with high levels of mental wellbeing manage to feel happy and contented with their lives more often than those who do not, the researchers noted. Other surprising results from the study included high levels of mental wellbeing among Afro-Caribbeans, especially men.

"We were very surprised to find substantially increased odds of high mental well-being among minority ethnic groups, particularly African and African-Caribbean, Indian and Pakistani groups," Stewart-Brown said.
The team used existing data from the Health Survey for England (HSE) for 2010 and 2011.  

The study involved 17,030 survey participants across both years.


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