Tishra Beeson (Public Health)
The present study examines the effects of the COVID-19 global pandemic on the mental health and well-being of college students residing in rural Washington. Eligible students living in on-campus residences or apartments were sent online survey instruments containing measures of mental health status using the Patient Health Questionnaire (PHQ-9) and original items to capture students’ experiences during the pandemic event. Univariate and bivariate statistical analyses using unpaired t-tests and chi-square tests of proportions were utilized. Open-text responses about students’ barriers to navigating mental health challenges during the COVID-19 pandemic among on-campus resident students were summarized using thematic content analysis and key themes will be presented. Among the 283 respondents with complete data in the sample, nearly 60% of the sample identified their gender as woman or female, with an additional 37% identifying as man or male, while an additional 1% identified as non-binary. Over 40% of respondents were 1st-year undergraduate students, and 74.75% of the sample identified their race as White. Based on previous literature, we expect to see statistically significant differences in mental health statuses and barriers to mental health identified by race and ethnicity, as well as differences by gender identity. We also expect to find that first-year students will have statistically significant differences in their mental health statuses compared to other grade levels. Key themes on students’ experiences and barriers with mental health during the COVID-19 pandemic will be summarized and presented.
Keywords: mental health, college students, COVID-19