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How academic, COVID-19 stress is affecting students differently – The Hill


Story at a glance


  • For a study published in Frontiers in Psychology, researchers looked at the relationship between perceived academic stress and mental well-being, how different groups experience stress, and how COVID-19 is impacting stress levels.

  • They found that perceived academic stress is felt intensely by non-binary and female students as well as by those in their second year of a four-year program. 

  • “The findings support prior studies that have shown that nonbinary adults face adverse mental health outcomes when compared to male- and female-identifying adults.” 

Both academic and COVID-19 stressors are impacting students’ mental well-being across the board, but new research finds the stress affects some groups more than others.  

For a study published in Frontiers in Psychology, researchers looked at the relationship between perceived academic stress and mental well-being, how different groups experience stress, and how COVID-19 is impacting stress levels. 

They found that perceived academic stress is felt intensely by non-binary and female students as well as by those in their second year of a four-year program. 

Rutgers University researchers surveyed 843 college students between the ages of 18 and 30, with participants representing each year of traditional study.  

Questions were drawn from the Short Warwick-Edinburgh Mental Well-Being Scale (SWEMWBS), which measures mental well-being alongside questions from the Perception of Academic Stress Scale (PAS). 

“This study shows that college students are not uniformly impacted by academic stress or pandemic-related stress and that certain groups should be offered additional resources and support,” study author Xue Ming, a professor of Neurology at Rutgers New Jersey Medical School, said in a media release

“The findings support prior studies that have shown that nonbinary adults face adverse mental health outcomes when compared to male- and female-identifying adults.” 

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Researchers noted that second-year students were likely impacted by the dual stressors as they take on more rigorous course loads and might be shifting majors.  

Ming said the study results might instruct colleges to target resources for these particularly affected groups while destigmatizing mental health issues.  

“Colleges should consider offering tailored mental health resources to these groups to improve students’ stress levels and psychological well-being,” Ming said. 

 “To raise awareness and destigmatize mental health, colleges can distribute confidential validated assessments, such as the PAS and SWEMWBS, in class and teach students to self-score so they can monitor their stress and mental well-being.” 

Published on Aug. 10, 2022





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