During a yearlong outbreak of the Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) pandemic, the mental health of university students has been significantly affected. During this period, the students reported high levels of stress and depression. Moreover, their perceived stress levels related to relationships, isolation, and fear of contagion. The results of this study are important to improve our understanding of the psychological impact of COVID-19 and to provide a basis for developing tailored psychological interventions to counteract these adverse effects.
The study compared the psychological health conditions of university students before and during the pandemic. The students were administered the SCL-90-R questionnaire to assess the psychological health condition. During the pandemic, the university students reported higher levels of psychoticism and depression. In addition, they reported higher levels of phobic anxiety and obsessive-compulsive disorder. The results showed that the scores for other symptoms did not differ from baseline.
The study used a repeated cross-sectional design, which limits the ability to propose cause-effect relationships. The data were collected from a sample of 545 university students in southern Italy. All students provided informed consent. The study was part of a larger research project aimed at identifying risk factors for psychological health of university students. The study provides a comprehensive overview of psychological health conditions in university students before and during the COVID-19 pandemic. It also provides information on psychological health conditions over the course of a year.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, university students reported higher levels of depression, phobic anxiety, and obsessive-compulsive disorder, while scores for other symptoms did not differ from baseline. However, the results were notably worse for women. The study suggests that the psychological impact of the outbreak may have been worse for women. This could have implications for women’s academic path and psychological health.
While this study provides some important information about psychological health conditions of university students, future research could provide additional information to better understand the psychological impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. Specifically, future research could address other factors, such as situational characteristics and past psychotherapy. It could also compare the psychological health conditions of university students with other population groups. In addition, future studies should include larger samples and address confounding variables. For example, future studies could investigate whether psychological health conditions among university students are influenced by academic performance, past psychotherapy, or other risk factors. These studies could also explore the psychological impact of COVID-19 in other countries.
The study is part of a larger research project aimed to understand the psychological impact of the COVID-19 outbreak on university students. It provides a comprehensive overview of psychological health conditions of university students before and during a yearlong outbreak. The results provide a basis for developing tailored psychological interventions. Moreover, the study could also facilitate the organization of counseling interventions. This could help prevent psychological withdrawal and foster commitment to academic adjustment. The study could also capture factors that affect psychological suffering in the long term.
These findings support the view that the psychological impact of the COVID-19 was worse for university students than for the general population. The study suggests that the university students’ perceived stress related to interpersonal-sensitivity and fear of contagion were higher during the pandemic, while the perceived stress related to changes in relational life was not. In addition, the results showed that psychological health conditions increased significantly from Stage 1 to Stage 2.