Thursday, January 13, 2022: 1:30 PM-3:00 PM
Independence BR F, ML 4 (Marriott Marquis Washington, DC)
Cluster: Mental Health
Tyler Frank, MS, Washington University in Saint Louis
Michal Grinstein-Weiss, PhD, Washington University in Saint Louis
Although college students may, in some ways, be well-suited to adapt to the changes brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic, the evidence available, thus far, suggests that the impact of COVID-19 on their mental health is particularly strong when compared to the general public. However, the experiences of COVID-19, as well as the responses to these experiences, are not uniform across countries. Indeed, there have been considerable differences between countries in the spread of the virus, governmental mitigation guidelines, and--at a more foundational level--the social context of higher education. Responding to the need for international and comparative research on COVID-19 and mental health in higher education, this panel first explores four unique yet interconnected topics--COVID-19 concerns, anxiety and depression, social support, and post-traumatic growth--all within the context of higher education across six countries: the United States, Israel, Kosovo, Ukraine, Cyprus and Germany. The first paper focused on the specific challenges of university students during COVID-19 and examined similarities and differences in COVID-19-related concerns and difficulties in functioning across five countries. The authors demonstrated similar patterns of COVID-19-related concerns and functional difficulties across the five countries, and based on a combined sample, the authors demonstrated that both COVID-19-related concerns and difficulties predicted lower levels of perceived coping. In the second paper, the authors examined the personal, interpersonal, and contextual risk factors for depression and anxiety among Israeli undergraduate and graduate students. Uncovering differences across dimensions of ethnicity and gender, the authors found that females reported a higher level of anxiety and depressive symptoms, and Arab students reported a higher level of anxiety and depression than their Jewish counterparts. The authors also demonstrated that COVID-related concerns, economic constraints, and educational difficulties were significantly associated with anxiety and depressive symptoms above and beyond background variables and health status. In the third, paper, the authors leveraged novel survey data from four universities across the U.S. and Israel. Using multi-group structural equation modeling, they showed that students receiving more social support demonstrated increased emotional availability for learning, and part of this relationship occurred through greater rates of coping and fewer concerns about the COVID-19 pandemic. Finally, in the fourth paper, COVID-19-related coping and post traumatic growth were examined with relation to parenthood among a sample of Israeli college students. The authors found evidence of post-traumatic growth among parents, as well as a strong relationship among coping. For many college students, the higher education system is not only responsible for providing education, but also material support--including housing, dining, and employment--and social support--including peer groups, clubs, and physical and mental health services. Given that most colleges and universities have the capacity to provide support to students--either directly through one-on-one services or indirectly through group facilitations, research that can demonstrate the relationship between COVID-19 concerns, coping, mental health, social support, post-traumatic growth, and availability for learning has the ability to guide university policies and practices both during and after the pandemic.
* noted as presenting author
See more of: Symposia