New Report: Self-Reported COVID-19 Infection and Implications for Mental Health and Food Insecurity among American College Students

Posted by The Hope Center on September 7, 2021

The COVID-19 pandemic’s impact on higher education has been widely examined as academic disruptions, social isolation, and financial instability threaten dreams of college attainment. Now, a new study conducted by The Hope Center for College, Community, and Justice of more than 100,000 undergraduates across the nation, reveals the negative implications of the COVID-19 virus on students’ health and well-being.

Analyzing data from the sixth annual #RealCollege Survey, conducted at 202 colleges and universities in 42 states in the fall of 2020, Hope Center researchers compared students based on whether or not they reported having had COVID. Almost 7 percent of students said that they had contracted the virus, a likely underestimate.

Rates of self-reported diagnosis were substantially higher among Indigenous, Latinx, and Black or African American students compared to White students. Pell Grant recipients had higher rates of infection than non-recipients. Having children, maintaining a job, or being a student-athlete were also associated with a higher risk of self-reported COVID diagnosis. Infection from COVID-19 is associated with negative outcomes as it pertains to students’ mental and physical health. The results of statistical models reveal that the odds of experiencing anxiety or depression are 1.4 times greater for a student who self-reported COVID-19 infection than students who did not. The odds of experiencing food insecurity were 1.7 times greater.

Read the full report on our website.

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