College Mental Health Before and During the COVID-19 Pandemic: Results From a Nationwide Survey

Hanjoo Kim, Gavin N. Rackoff, Ellen E. Fitzsimmons-Craft, Ki Eun Shin, Nur Hani Zainal, Jeremy T. Schwob, Daniel Eisenberg, Denise E. Wilfley, C. Barr Taylor, Michelle G. Newman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

59 Scopus citations


Background: The COVID-19 pandemic could affect college students’ mental health. We examined screening rates for psychological disorders before and during the pandemic. Methods: Undergraduates were surveyed before (n = 3643) or during the pandemic (n = 4970). Logistic regression adjusting for participant demographics was conducted. Results: Frequencies of depression [OR 1.32, 95% CI (1.17, 1.48)], alcohol use disorder [OR 1.70, 95% CI (1.50, 1.93)], bulimia nervosa/binge-eating disorder [OR 1.54, 95% CI (1.28, 1.85)], and comorbidity [OR 1.19, 95% CI (1.04, 1.35)] were greater during (vs. before) the pandemic. Frequencies of posttraumatic stress disorder were lower during the pandemic [OR 0.86, 95% CI (0.75, 0.98)]. The upward trend in alcohol use disorder was stronger among women than men [OR 1.47, 95% CI (1.18, 1.83)]. The upward trend in depression was stronger among Black students than White students [OR 1.72, 95% CI (1.19, 2.49)]. Anxiety disorders, insomnia, anorexia nervosa, and suicidality showed no significant trends. Conclusions: Depression, alcohol use disorder, bulimia nervosa/binge-eating disorder, and comorbidity were higher, whereas posttraumatic stress disorder was lower during the pandemic. Women and Black students could face especially heightened risk for alcohol use disorder and depression, respectively, during the pandemic.

Original languageEnglish
JournalCognitive Therapy and Research
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 2022


  • COVID-19
  • College students
  • Pandemic
  • Psychological disorders


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