Impact of COVID-19 on the Mental Health of US College Students.


North Florida


Ocala Regional Medical Center

Document Type


Publication Date



Adolescent, Adult, Anxiety, COVID-19, Depression, Humans, Male, Mental Health, Pandemics, SARS-CoV-2, Students, Universities, Young Adult


Behavior and Behavior Mechanisms | Psychiatry | Psychiatry and Psychology | Virus Diseases


BACKGROUND/AIM: In the beginning of 2020, the novel Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) caused by the SARS-CoV-2 virus, became a public health emergency in the U.S. and rapidly escalated into a global pandemic. Because the SARS-CoV-2 virus is highly contagious, physical distancing was enforced and indoor public spaces, including schools and educational institutions, were abruptly closed and evacuated to ensure civilian safety. Accordingly, educational institutions rapidly transitioned to remote learning. We investigated the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on domestic U.S. college students, ages 18-24 years.

METHODS: Through Pollfish®'s survey research platform, we collected data from 200 domestic U.S. college students in this age range (N = 200) regarding the physical, emotional, and social impacts of COVID-19 as well as key background information (e.g. whether or not they are first-generation or if they identify with the LGBTQIA+ community).

RESULTS: Our results indicate that students closer to graduating faced increases in anxiety (60.8%), feeling of loneliness (54.1%), and depression (59.8%). Many reported worries for the health of loved ones most impacted their mental health status (20.0%), and the need to take care of family most affected current and future plans (31.8%). Almost one-half of students took to exercising and physical activity to take care of their mental health (46.7%). While a third did not have strained familial relationships (36.5%), almost one half did (45.7%). A majority found it harder to complete the semester at home (60.9%), especially among those who had strained relationships with family (34.1%). Seventy percent spent time during the pandemic watching television shows or movies. Significantly more men, first-generation, and low-income students gained beneficial opportunities in light of the pandemic, whereas their counterparts reported no impact. First-generation students were more likely to take a gap year or time off from school.

CONCLUSIONS: Although students found ways to take care of themselves and spent more time at home, the clear negative mental health impacts call for schools and federal regulations to accommodate, support, and make mental health care accessible to all students.

Publisher or Conference

BMC Psychology