Identifying Key Mental Health Risk Indicators in College Students
based on a survey of 895 college students and 547 non-college young adults conducted between July and September 2020, with 201 of them college students also followed after 6 months. month. The research was funded by the University of Warwick’s COVID Research Program Award for Vice Chancellors (Research) and supported by Warwick Health Global Research Priorities.
Analysis of their responses revealed several factors consistently associated with poor mental health at the end of the first UK lockdown: age, previous mental health status, care, financial status worsens, and sleep and sleep problems are increasing.
Mental health issues college students face
When they compared the responses of college students to non-students of the same age, there was no significant difference between the two groups in terms of mental health symptoms, except for the risk of substance abuse. Addiction was higher among non-students.
When they reassessed a small group of students who responded between January and March 2021, the researchers found that increased financial hardship and sleep difficulties were consistently predictive of mental health. worse.
They also found that there was a decrease in mental health symptoms over time, with the percentage of students reporting anxiety symptoms falling from 72.1% to 59.3% over six months, and for depression decreased from 69.8% to 61.4%. The researchers suggest that this may be because students adapt to some of the symptoms as the pandemic progresses, although some of the symptoms are more ingrained.
The demographic profiles of study participants are comparable to those of students in the UK, suggesting that the findings will be of use to universities across the country.
The interventions and prevention measures available for each group can be applied to both populations for greater generalizability.
Lead author, Professor Nicole Tang, from the University’s Department of Psychology and Co-Head of the GRP Mental Health Topics at the College of Medicine, said: “There is a lot of information to be generated from this study. that universities can use to inform prevention and intervention policies and strategies, although there are signs of mental health problems that we cannot change, such as age history, mental health conditions, and as carers, we can use them to identify individuals at risk and provide enhanced support.
“Some indicators of future mental health problems are things we can act on, such as a worsening financial situation, a decrease in physical activity, and an increase in sleep problems. There are also proven effective treatments for acute and chronic insomnia that can be used to help students better regulate sleep in the context of excessive stress and loss of routine. normal activity.
“What’s also interesting is that research shows that mental health is a multidimensional concept, and can be viewed as a profile of different symptoms, which seems to respond to pandemic experiences differently. together.”
Dr Hannah Friend, Director of Welfare and Protection at the University of Warwick, said: “Research is an important component of Warwick’s Wellbeing Strategy. I am pleased that we are successfully engaging research and practice in an organization-wide approach to health.”
Dr Elaine Lockhart, Chair of the Royal College of Psychiatrists’ Department of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, said: “While this study highlights the current pressures facing mental health and students’ well-being, it also highlights the need to continue to support mental health services within and outside the university setting, however, those who develop acute mental health problems must be able to access specialist services for evidence-based diagnosis and treatment.