85% of College Students More Stressed Amid Coronavirus Pandemic

85% of College Students More Stressed Amid Coronavirus Pandemic

3 in 4 comfortable discussing mental health, well-being with close friends
College students socially distanced in a lecture hall

Most college students are more stressed than usual because of the coronavirus pandemic.

An overwhelming 85% of college students said they’re more stressed than in years past, according to a survey from American Campus Communities, a developer of student housing communities, and the Hi, How Are You Project, an organization that raises awareness about mental health issues.

While more than 9 in 10 students (93%) said they believe mental health is an important part of their overall health and well-being, two-thirds admit that COVID-19 has made them pay more attention to it than in the past.

Students open up about struggles

More than three-fourths of college students (76%) said they felt comfortable talking to close friends about their mental health and well-being. Age may play a role in that willingness. In fact, an earlier survey found that Gen Z workers were more likely than older colleagues to take advantage of mental health services since the beginning of the pandemic.

However, college students made distinctions when it came to who they discussed their mental health with, as:

  • 56% were comfortable talking about it with family
  • 48% were OK talking to mental health experts and doctors not associated with their university

College students were most reticent about sharing their struggles with university staff and faculty, with only 30% saying they felt comfortable doing so.

Music is No. 1 coping tool

When asked what college students do to cut down on stress and anxiety:

  • 84% of respondents said they listen to music
  • 78% said they talk with family or friends via phone or video chat
  • 74% said they watch TV or movies
  • 62% spend time outdoors
  • 58% exercise
  • 43% check out social media
  • 42% do something creative, such as paint or draw
  • 40% focus on their diet or sleep habits

Respondents also reported following habits to maintain strong mental health. When asked how they maintain optimum wellness:

  • 85% said by staying connected with friends and family
  • 82% said by eating healthy
  • 80% said by getting a good night’s sleep
  • 70% said by exercising regularly
  • 68% said by focusing on positive situations
  • 55% said by practicing mindfulness

One of the biggest challenges college students have faced is missing out on in-person interactions. In fact, 84% said the No. 1 thing they’ve missed about college life since the pandemic started is socializing with friends and others.

College students aren’t alone, as an earlier survey by ValuePenguin found that nearly half of Americans struggled with loneliness during the coronavirus outbreak.

Methodology: American Campus Communities (ACC) and the Hi, How Are You Project surveyed 12,188 residents of ACC properties, ranging from incoming freshmen to graduate students. Survey participants represented 65 university markets. The survey took place in September 2020.