Covid-19; Mental disorders in students on an increase in the US

mental

As coronavirus continues to affect the entire society, a new survey has exposed the mental pressure of graduate as well as undergraduate students in the United States.

Mental health disorders in students in the US apparently doubled during the pandemic, according to a study by the Student Experience in the Research University (SERU) Consortium — a collaboration between the University of California, Berkeley (UC Berkeley), and the University of Minnesota Twin Cities in Minneapolis.

The survey found that the prevalence of major depressive disorder among graduate and professional students was two times higher in 2020 compared to 2019. Moreover, it also showed that the prevalence of generalized anxiety disorder was 1.5 times higher than in 2019.

It showed that anxiety among graduate students rose by 50 per cent in 2020 than 2019. The survey results showed that 35 per cent of undergraduates and 32 per cent of graduate and professional students as positive for major depressive disorder. Meanwhile, 39 per cent of undergraduate and graduate and professional students were seen to be positive for generalized anxiety disorder.

The survey also found that depressive and generalized anxiety disorder rates were higher among low-income students, women and non-binary students, students of colour, transgender students, bisexual, gay or lesbian, queer, asexual, pansexual students and students who are caregivers.

The study was based on Patient Health Questionnaire-2 and Generalized Anxiety Disorder-2 screening tools. In Patient Health Questionnaire-2, the students were asked two questions about the frequency of depressed mood and anhedonia. In Generalized Anxiety Disorder-2 screening, they were asked about the frequency of anxiety.

Undergraduate Students

Among undergraduates, the students of Arts, humanities, design, communication majors were seen to have more depressive disorder and generalized anxiety disorder than students in other streams. Within the students of Arts, humanities, design, communication majors, depressive disorder and generalized anxiety disorder was seen to be more prevalent among undergraduates who opted English language and literature. While 45 per cent of them screened positive for major depressive disorder, 55 per cent screened positive for generalized anxiety disorder.

They also found that 38 per cent of the students who took social and behavioural sciences and students of psychology have a more levels of major depressive disorder. About 45 per cent of them had higher generalized anxiety disorder than students of other majors.

The students of science, technology, mathematics and engineering have low rates of major depressive disorder and generalized anxiety disorder when compared to others.

Graduate and Professional Students

Similar to undergraduate students, the graduate and professional students of arts, humanities, design and communication was seen to have major depressive disorder or generalized anxiety disorder than other fields of study. In this stream also major depressive disorder and generalized anxiety disorder was more prevalent among students studying English language and literature. When 51 cent screened positive for major depressive disorder, 63 per cent screened positive for generalized anxiety disorder.

It also said that 51 per cent of the students in anthropology stream have more levels of major depressive disorder than students in other fields. Just like undergraduate students, the graduate and professional students of science, technology, mathematics and engineering also had lower levels of generalized anxiety disorder.

Recommendations

The study has called for allocating more resources, increase communications and reduce barriers. They said that colleges and universities should plan to allocate more resources for a potential increase in students’ requests for mental health services, including counselling or therapeutic services.

They also called for expanding telecounseling programs and focussing on preventative services. The Faculty and academic advisors should plan for potential impacts upon students’ engagement in classes and overall well being. The faculty should encourage compassion for students and to direct students to support services on campus that can assist students.

Apart from this, the administrators should work hand in hand with students as they develop new strategies to improve students’ mental health and reduce their stress.

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