COVID-19 Stressors & Coping Among On-Campus Resident Students in a Rural Washington County

Author(s)

Brooke Writer

Faculty Mentor(s)

Tishra Beeson (Public Health)

Abstract

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

Presentation

4 thoughts on “COVID-19 Stressors & Coping Among On-Campus Resident Students in a Rural Washington County”

  1. Brooke,
    Well done. This is a great topic, regarding coping strategies, were there key themes that emerged from your analysis that positively impacted coping during this difficult time?
    You mention time of the survey as being limited to one quarter, and the modifications that this may have had on the results- this was an excellent point. How might this be mediated in future research inquiry, while utilizing the same study design?
    A side comment that have is that It would be interesting to know if a change in living arrangement , i.e., off campus versus on, changes stressors and coping strategies.

  2. Hi Jaclyn,

    Thank you so much for your response. With coping strategies, I used the Brief-COPE scale which measured students’ confidence in how they deal with certain situations described within the scale. Key themes found within this scale were that students who identified as non-binary scored highest in using avoidant coping styles, which is characterized as using subscales of denial, substance use, venting, behavioral disengagement, self-distraction, and self-blame, compared to women and men in our sample. We also found positive correlations with students who identified as non-binary using avoidant coping styles and having higher COVID-19 Distress scores.

    I believe that study results would benefit from yearlong data collection to provide evidence that students’ mental health and well-being may be severely impacted by COVID-19 the longer it lasts. I think it would be important to assess data over a year because as the pandemic continues, university communities will respond to needs as they emerge, which will provide evidence if there are time effects for mental health in college students.

    I agree it would be interesting to know if living arrangements on and off-campus would elicit the same results. Something to consider if this study is able to be conducted over the span of a year.

  3. Great presentation, Brooke. All these graphs and data that are included make the presentation very easy to understand and follow. Well done.

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