Objective: To explore the degree of COVID-19-related stress among college students enrolled in higher level institutions and identify socio-demographic and psychosocial factors that may predict, or be associated with, higher levels of pandemic-related distress.
Method: Data were obtained from a cross-sectional survey completed by 321 college students primarily recruited from Universities in Ireland. Ages ranged between 18-21 years (n = 176) and 22-25 years (n = 145). Participants answered some demographic questions before completing scales assessing their experience of childhood adversity, their present resilience and levels of psychological distress, as well as their COVID-19-specific stress.
Results: Multiple regression analysis revealed that students who were female, who had chronic illness, who experienced monetary concerns and who expressed psychological distress experienced greater stress related to COVID-19.
Conclusion: Findings suggest that certain categories of college students may be at higher risk for experiencing poor mental health during a global pandemic. Higher level institutions should consider this when designing and delivering support services aiming to promote student mental health and alleviate mental distress.
Keywords: COVID-19; Coronavirus; higher education; mental health; risk factors; students.