Depressive symptoms in higher education students during the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic. An examination of the association with various social risk factors across multiple high- and middle-income countries

Van de Velde, S. and Buffel, V. and van der Heijde, C. and Çoksan, S. and Bracke, P. and Abel, T. and Busse, H. and Zeeb, H. and Rabiee-Khan, Fatemeh and Stathopoulou, T. and Van Hal, G. and Ladner, J. and Tavolacci, M. and Tholen, R. and Wouters, E. (2021) Depressive symptoms in higher education students during the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic. An examination of the association with various social risk factors across multiple high- and middle-income countries. SSM - Population Health, 16. p. 100936. ISSN 2352-8273

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Abstract

Higher-education students face substantial risks for developing depressive symptoms during the COVID-19 pandemic or experiencing exacerbated pre-existing depressive symptoms. This study uses data from the COVID-19 International Student Well-Being Study, which collected data through a non-representative convenience sample in 125 higher-education institutions (HEI) across 26 high- and middle-income countries (N: 20,103) during the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic. It describes the prevalence of depressive symptoms in higher-education students. We find substantial cross-national variation in depressive symptoms, with lowest mean levels established in the Nordic countries and France, while highest mean levels of depressive symptoms were found in Turkey, South Africa, Spain and the USA. Elevated risk for depressive symptoms was found in female students, students with fewer social support resources and in a more disadvantaged socioeconomic position, and students with a migrant background. COVID-19 related stressors, such as reduced social contact, increased financial insecurity, and academic stress explained a relatively larger proportion of the variance in depressive symptoms compared to non-COVID-19 related stressors. This finding shows that not the pandemic itself, but rather the secondary effects of the pandemic relate to students' mental health. Our results enable HEIs to be better equipped to target groups that are particularly at risk during a pandemic.

Item Type: Article
Identification Number: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ssmph.2021.100936
Dates:
DateEvent
29 September 2021Accepted
1 October 2021Published Online
Uncontrolled Keywords: Depressive symptoms, Higher education students, COVID-19
Subjects: CAH02 - subjects allied to medicine > CAH02-06 - allied health > CAH02-06-01 - health sciences (non-specific)
Divisions: Faculty of Health, Education and Life Sciences > School of Health Sciences
Depositing User: Fatemeh Rabiee-Khan
Date Deposited: 17 Jan 2022 09:40
Last Modified: 17 Jan 2022 09:40
URI: http://www.open-access.bcu.ac.uk/id/eprint/12659

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