Investigating mental health of US college students during the COVID-19 pandemic: Cross-sectional survey study

Xiaomei Wang, Sudeep Hegde, Changwon Son, Bruce Keller, Alec Smith, Farzan Sasangohar

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

808 Scopus citations


Background: Evidence suggests that the COVID-19 pandemic has generally increased levels of stress and depression among the public. However, the impact on college students in the United States has not been well-documented. Objective: This paper surveys the mental health status and severity of depression and anxiety of college students in a large university system in the United States during the COVID-19 pandemic. Methods: An online survey was conducted among undergraduate and graduate students recruited from Texas A&M University via email. The survey consisted of two standardized scales-the Patient Health Questionnaire-9 and the General Anxiety Disorder-7-for depression and anxiety, and additional multiple-choice and open-ended questions regarding stressors and coping mechanisms specific to COVID-19. Results: Among the 2031 participants, 48.14% (n=960) showed a moderate-to-severe level of depression, 38.48% (n=775) showed a moderate-to-severe level of anxiety, and 18.04% (n=366) had suicidal thoughts. A majority of participants (n=1443, 71.26%) indicated that their stress/anxiety levels had increased during the pandemic. Less than half of the participants (n=882, 43.25%) indicated that they were able to cope adequately with the stress related to the current situation. Conclusions: The proportion of respondents showing depression, anxiety, and/or suicidal thoughts is alarming. Respondents reported academic-, health-, and lifestyle-related concerns caused by the pandemic. Given the unexpected length and severity of the outbreak, these concerns need to be further understood and addressed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere22817
Pages (from-to)e22817
JournalJournal of medical Internet research
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 17 2020


  • COVID-19
  • College student
  • Coronavirus
  • Depression
  • Mental health
  • Online survey
  • Stress
  • Student
  • University
  • Anxiety/epidemiology
  • Pandemics
  • Humans
  • Mental Health/statistics & numerical data
  • Coronavirus Infections/epidemiology
  • Male
  • Suicidal Ideation
  • Universities
  • Young Adult
  • Depression/epidemiology
  • Pneumonia, Viral/epidemiology
  • Stress, Psychological/epidemiology
  • Betacoronavirus
  • Adult
  • Female
  • Students/psychology
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Health Surveys
  • Adolescent

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health Informatics


Dive into the research topics of 'Investigating mental health of US college students during the COVID-19 pandemic: Cross-sectional survey study'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this