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U.S. College Students Face COVID-19-Related Stressors

Bereavement, financial hardship especially impactful on student distress, while contracting COVID-19 tied to lower risk for distress

THURSDAY, Aug. 25, 2022 (HealthDay News) — Financial hardship and bereavement are particularly important stressors tied to psychological distress among college students during the pandemic, according to a study published in the Oct. 1 issue of the Journal of Affective Disorders.

Abdelrahman ElTohamy, M.D., from Harvard Medical School in Boston, and colleagues used data from 65,568 undergraduate students participating in the spring 2021 American College Health Association-National College Health Assessment to examine pandemic-related experiences on young adult mental health.

The researchers found that participants who experienced the death of a loved one had 1.14 times greater odds of developing psychological distress. Similarly, those who experienced financial hardship had 1.78 times greater odds of developing psychological distress. Testing positive for COVID-19 was associated with 0.82 times lower odds of psychological distress.

“Our results highlight the importance of understanding the relative effects of different pandemic-related factors on college students’ well-being,” the authors write. “Regardless of the direct physical effects of COVID-19, it seems that indirect psychosocial and emotional effects of losing loved ones and/or facing financial hardships might exert a significant harmful impact on students’ mental health.”

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