Report Finds Bipartisan Consensus on Areas of Higher Education Accountability

Title: The COVID-19 Pandemic and Mental Health of First-Year College Students: Examining the Effect of COVID-19 Stressors Using Longitudinal Data

Source:  University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Authors: Jane Cooley Fruehwirth , Siddhartha Biswas, Krista M. Perreira

Using data from 419 first-year students (ages 18 to 20) at a large public university in North Carolina, researchers estimate that moderate-severe anxiety increased from 18.1 percent before the pandemic (October 2019-February 2020) to 25.3 percent within four months after the pandemic began (June/July 2020). Similarly, researchers find that moderate-severe depression increased from 21.5 percent to 31.7 percent.

Increases in anxiety and depression symptoms were differently experienced across student demographic characteristics. While female and sexual/gender minority students were at highest risk of increases in both anxiety and depression symptoms, white students were also at highest risk of increases in anxiety. By contrast, non-Hispanic Black students were also found to have the highest risk of increases in depression symptoms.

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Anna Marie Ramos

Higher Education Today