Study Finds That Stress Impacts Mental Health Well-Being of Women College Students More Than Their Male Peers

Academic stress takes a toll on the mental well-being of certain groups of college students more than others a correlation further exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a Rutgers New Jersey Medical School study.

According to the American Psychological Association, up to 87 percent of U.S. college students cite education as their primary source of stress arising from demanding course loads, studying, time management, classroom competition, financial concerns, family pressures, and difficulty adapting to new environments but few studies have looked at how that stress directly affects mental health.

The authors of this study found a significant correlation between perceived academic stress and poor mental well-being in all the students, but most acutely in those who are nonbinary, female, or who were in the second year of a four-year program. Nonbinary students reported the highest stress levels and worst psychological well-being, followed by female students. Both groups also reported higher COVID-19-related stress than males.

“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,” said study co-author Xue Ming, a professor of neurology at Rutgers New Jersey Medical School.

“Colleges should consider offering tailored mental health resources to these groups to improve students’ stress levels and psychological well-being,” Dr. Ming recommended. The researchers also recommend colleges provide stress-management and coping strategies such as mindfulness meditation and cognitive behavioral therapy as well as offer stress-reduction peer support groups to help build resilience.

Dr. Ming holds a bachelor’s degree and a medical degree from Shanghai Medical University and a Ph.D. from the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey.

The full study, “Academic Stress and Mental Well-Being in College Students: Correlations, Affected Groups and COVID-19,” was published in the journal Frontiers. It may be accessed here.

Filed Under: Research/Study


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