The Impact of COVID-19 on Student Mental Health

April 2020 Survey Data

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Active Minds surveyed 3,239 high school and higher education students between April 10-18, 2020 regarding the impact of COVID-19 on their mental health. Click each data point to see what we learned.

What type of diploma or degree are you currently pursuing?

 

# of students % of students
Bachelor 2,086 64%
High School 545 17%
Master 195 6%
Associate 186 6%
Doctorate 87 3%
No degree or diploma 77 2%
GED / HS Equivalency 36 1%
Professional 27 1%

 

How has COVID-19 impacted your mental health?

How has COVID-19 impacted your mental health?

 

All Students College Students High School Students
Worsened Significantly 18% 20% 12%
Worsened 57% 60% 48%
Unchanged 13% 11% 21%
Improved 10% 9% 17%
Improved significantly 1% 1% 2%

In which ways has COVID-19 impacted your life?

In which of the following additional ways, if any, has COVID-19 impacted your life? (select all that apply)

 

All Students College Students High School Students
Stress or anxiety 87% 91% 74%
Disappointment or sadness 78% 80% 74%
Loneliness or isolation 42% 48% 26%
Financial Setback 42% 48% 26%
Relocation 39% 56% 2%
Illness (myself or a loved one) 7% 6% 9%
Loss of a loved one 4% 3% 5%
None of the above 4% 2% 8%

 

What has been most stressful, if anything, for you during COVID-19 overall?

What has been most stressful, if anything, for you during COVID-19 overall? (choose one)

 

All Students College Students High School Students
Having trouble focusing on studies and/or work 38% 42% 27%
Feeling disconnected from friends and/or loved ones 28% 25% 42%
Feeling unhappy in my living space 10% 11% 10%
Finding joy while coping with the pandemic 10% 10% 9%
Having your basic needs met (i.e. food, housing, job, and/or financial security) 7% 6% 3%
Limited access to mental health services (i.e. therapy or medication) 2% 2% 3%
Other* 3% 3% 3%
I have not experienced any stress 2% 1% 3%

 

* “Other” responses included:

  • Relationship issues
  • Transition to online learning
  • Concerns about loved ones getting sick or for those who are essential workers
  • Job prospects
  • Uncertainty/fear for the future
  • Relocation to a new environment
  • Feeling physically restricted
  • Disappointment from missing commencement, needing to end study broad early, or consideration of postponing college

Which self-care habits have been challenging to maintain?

Which of the following self-care habits have been challenging to maintain so far during COVID-19? (select all that apply)

 

All Students College Students High School Students
Maintaining a routine 74% 76% 68%
Getting enough physical activity 70% 73% 62%
Staying connected with others 59% 63% 55%
Eating well 56% 58% 50%
Getting enough sleep 51% 52% 48%
Managing news/social media intake 48% 51% 40%
Self-care has not been challenging 5% 4% 8%
Other* 3% 3% 2%

 

* “Other” responses include:

  • Getting out of bed
  • Personal hygiene
  • Managing workload
  • Avoiding self-medicating
  • Staying hydrated
  • Continuing therapy
  • Getting dressed
  • Hobbies
  • Getting alone time
  • Maintaining a positive mindset
  • Taking medication
  • Avoiding toxic relationships

What has been most difficult about stay-at-home orders with regard to your living space?

If applicable, what has been most difficult about the stay-at-home orders and recommendations, with regard to your current living space? (select all that apply)

 

All Students College Students High School Students
Staying focused on school/work despite distractions 81% 85% 71%
Navigating “small” annoyances/ inconveniences 49% 51% 46%
Avoiding arguments or negativity 46% 49% 44%
Finding privacy/quiet space 45% 48% 36%
Feeling heard and understood by others 35% 36% 30%
Balancing personal and social time 33% 37% 28%
None of the above have been challenging 4% 3% 7%
Other* 2% 2% 2%

 

* “Other” responses include:

  • Being alone
  • Lack of WiFi access
  • Missing physical contact
  • Grading policies
  • Not being able to get medical procedures done
  • Family stress
  • Not being able to pay rent
  • Lack of purpose
  • Mental health issues
  • Having to take care of family members
  • Abuse
  • Unemployment

With whom are you having the most interaction?

During this time, with whom are you having the most interaction? (choose one)

 

All Students College Students High School Students
Parents 50% 53% 50%
Siblings 20% 19% 28%
Significant Others 13% 12% 5%
Friends 8% 6% 13%
Roommates 4% 5% 1%
Educators 1% 1% 0.2%
Other* 4% 4% 3%

 

* “Other” responses include:

  • No one
  • Co-workers
  • Children
  • Pets
  • Internet friends
  • Non-parent family members (grandparents, cousins, in-laws, etc.)

Thinking about the person or group you interact with most, what is the best way they can show you support?

Thinking about the person or group you interact with most right now, what would be the best way that they can show you support during COVID-19? (choose one)

 

All Students College Students High School Students
Spend time with you 33% 31% 44%
Help ease your mind of COVID-19 related stress 18% 19% 16%
Ask how you are doing 16% 16% 15%
Help you navigate relationship/communication challenges with others 11% 11% 10%
Help you identify or advocate for basic needs, such as food, housing, and/or mental health services 7% 7% 4%
Provide you an opportunity to reflect on COVID-19’s impact on your life 4% 5% 3%
Other* 11% 12% 8%

 

* “Other” responses included:

  • Avoid distracting me, or give me alone time
  • There’s nothing they can do / I don’t need anything from them
  • Help with some of my responsibilities (i.e. babysitting)
  • Distract me, or discuss things other than COVID-19
  • Avoid nagging me
  • Listen to me
  • Make me laugh

What tools have you found helpful in caring for your own mental wellness?

What tools have you found helpful in caring for your own mental wellness? (select all that apply)

 

All Students College Students High School Students
Virtual face-to-face time with friends/family 59% 60% 58%
Games/Netflix watch parties or other digital social entertaining gatherings 56% 55% 65%
Phone calls with friends/family 54% 54% 55%
In-person conversations with those in my household 46% 47% 45%
Free or paid access to online yoga or other workout classes 23% 24% 20%
Free access to meditation, mindfulness, and other apps 20% 21% 14%
Webinars with my school/club/team 17% 17% 22%
Live conversations with influencers or brands I follow 7% 6% 10%
None of the above 8% 9% 4%
Other* 5% 5% 4%

 

* “Other” responses included:

  • Reading
  • Going for a walk/run
  • Hobbies
  • Telehealth
  • Religion
  • Gaming
  • Sleeping
  • Art
  • Binge watching
  • Crying it out
  • Working on goals
  • Music
  • Gardening/landscaping
  • Playing with animals
  • Journaling
  • Doing homework
  • Texting

Would you know where to get help for mental health for yourself or someone you know?

Hypothetically, if you or someone you know was in need of professional mental health services right away, would you know where to go?

 

All Students College Students High School Students
Yes 45% 44% 45%
No 55% 56% 55%

How hopeful are you about school-related goals and future job prospects?

On a scale of 1-10, how hopeful are you about achieving your school-related goals and your future job prospects (1=not at all hopeful, 10=extremely hopeful)?

 

All Students College Students High School Students
10 (extremely hopeful) 13% 12% 17%
6-9 (hopeful) 58% 57% 60%
5 (neutral) 11% 11% 9%
2-4 (unhopeful) 16% 18% 12%
1 (not at all hopeful) 3% 3% 2%

What is important for school leadership to be thinking about for student mental health?

What do you think is most important for school leadership to be thinking about in the short term and long term for student mental health during and after the pandemic?

  1. Academic support
    Leniency, accommodations, flexibility
  2. Mental health resources
    Increased investment in counseling and coping resources
  3. Soft skills
    Empathy, compassion, communication, understanding, validation
  4. Provide opportunities for social connection
    Replacing cancelled events/services/classes with virtual ones
  5. Engage in long-term planning
    Being prepared to help students heal and recover when they return; putting in place improved practices and protocols to more easily pivot to remote learning in case of another similar crisis

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