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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Undergraduate and Graduate Students’ Mental Health During the COVID-19 Pandemic

  • Author(s): Chirikov, Igor
  • Soria, Krista M
  • Horgos, Bonnie
  • Jones-White, Daniel
  • et al.
Abstract

The COVID-19 pandemic has looming negative impacts on mental health of undergraduate and graduate students at research universities, according to the Student Experience in the Research University (SERU) Consortium survey of 30,725 undergraduate students and 15,346 graduate and professional students conducted in May-July 2020 at nine public research universities. 

Based on PHQ-2 and GAD-2 screening tools, 35% of undergraduates and 32% of graduate and professional students screened positive for major depressive disorder, while 39% of undergraduate and graduate and professional students screened positive for generalized anxiety disorder. 

Major depressive disorder and generalized anxiety disorder rates are more pronounced among low-income students; students of color; women and non-binary students; transgender students; gay or lesbian, bisexual, queer, questioning, asexual, and pansexual students; and, students who are caregivers. The prevalence of major depressive disorder and generalized anxiety disorder is higher among the undergraduate and graduate students who did not adapt well to remote instruction.

Furthermore, the pandemic has led to increases in students’ mental health disorders compared to previous years. In fact, the prevalence of major depressive disorder among graduate and professional students is two times higher in 2020 compared to 2019 and the prevalence of generalized anxiety disorder is 1.5 times higher than in 2019.

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