UTEP Study Examines Pandemic’s Effect on Hispanic Students’ Mental Health
Last Updated on July 20, 2021 at 12:00 AM
Originally published July 20, 2021
By Laura L. Acosta
Hispanic students at a public university experienced increased levels of stress, anxiety and depression during the COVID-19 pandemic, according to researchers at The University of Texas at El Paso’s College of Health Sciences.
Gabriel Ibarra-Mejia, M.D., Ph.D., assistant professor in the Department of Public Health Sciences, and Mark Lusk, Ed.D., professor emeritus of social work, collaborated with Soyoung Jeon, Ph.D., assistant professor in the Economics, Applied Statistics and International Business Department at New Mexico State University, on a study that examined stress, anxiety and depression among Hispanic university students during the COVID-19 pandemic. The study recently was published in the Social Development Issues journal.
The researchers found that Hispanic students had a high prevalence of moderate to severe stress and high levels of anxiety and depression that varied by age and gender. The study’s results suggest that there is a need for outreach programs that address minority students’ mental health during the global public health crisis.
“These findings can serve as a foundation for a proactive approach to serving college students in supporting their well-being and mental health,” Ibarra-Mejia said.
As part of the study, more than 400 students older than 18 who were enrolled during the summer and fall 2020 semesters at a Hispanic-serving institution took part in the survey, which was designed to identify the prevalence and magnitude of stress, anxiety, and depression associated with the COVID-19 pandemic.
Participants answered 45 questions on demographic and socioeconomic data and items that measured the one-month prevalence and severity of stress, anxiety and depression associated with COVID-19.
“The contribution of the paper is that it confirms that university students in general, and Hispanic students in particular, have experienced high levels of stress, anxiety and depression during the pandemic,” Lusk said. “This has been associated with disruptions in life, education, as well as social isolation and economic difficulties. The article suggests that universities are working to reach at-risk students through outreach and supportive and mental health student services.”
Social Development Issues is a refereed journal of the International Consortium for Social Development. The journal's purpose is to promote consideration of issues that affect social justice as well as the development and well-being of individuals and their communities.