Friday, January 13, 2023: 5:30 PM-7:00 PM
Camelback A, 2nd Level (Sheraton Phoenix Downtown)
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 two countries: the United States and Israel. The first paper compared international and local studentsâ€™ self-reported health difficulties, COVID-19 related concerns, economic situation, academic experiences, self-perceived coping effectiveness, levels of anxiety and depression, and perceived need for help. The authors demonstrated nuances in international students ratings of health and social support, views of the university, and discrimination when compared to local students. In the second 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. In the third paper, the theory of intersectionality provided a framework for understanding how multiple dimensions of identity can lead to unique experiences of mental health amongst students. Using multi-group structural equation modeling, authors explore how household hardships, academic hardships, and university assistance needed mediates the relationship between race and mental health, including depression and anxiety. Finally, in the fourth paper, a moderated mediation model, in which the mediating effect of social support on mental health is moderated by teaching quality, is proposed in a sample of Israeli university students. The authors found evidence that the improvement of mental health through academic coping via social support only happened for students who perceived good teaching during the pandemic, demonstrating the effect of the cross-lagged panel model. For many college students, the higher education system is not only responsible for providing education, but also material supportâ€”such as housing, dining, and employmentâ€”and social supportâ€”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
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