US college student mental health and COVID-19: Comparing pre-pandemic and pandemic timepoints

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

23 Scopus citations


Objective: To assess mental health in US undergraduates during COVID-19; to identify key pandemic-related stressors, perceived control, and coping and their associations with mental health. Participants: Data collected from a sample of undergraduates in April 2020 (N = 312) were compared to data collected in Spring 2017 (N = 362). Methods: Online measures of depression, anxiety, and stress symptoms and perceived control and coping (both samples); pandemic-related stressors and perceived benefits (April 2020). Results: Depression and stress symptoms were higher in April 2020 than in 2017. Most students reported perceiving at least some pandemic-related benefits. Top-rated stressors involved missing seeing friends and school-related stressors. Perceived control and approach coping were lower during the pandemic but related to better mental health; avoidant coping was higher during the pandemic and related to poorer mental health. Conclusions: Findings can inform campuses regarding how to improve student mental health during COVID and beyond.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2686-2696
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of American College Health
Issue number9
StatePublished - 2023

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 Taylor & Francis Group, LLC.


  • college students
  • coping
  • mental health
  • pandemic
  • stress

PubMed: MeSH publication types

  • Journal Article


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