IT Teaching Resources

COVID-19’s mental health effects on children, college students, and adults

This article discusses how college students, children, and adults are uniquely impacted by COVID-19

Article Research

Title: COVID-19’s mental health effects by age group: Children, college students, working-age adults and older adults
Author: Joe Gramigna

Key points

  • In the past decade, rates of depression, anxiety, and suicidality have all increased in the college student population; Anxiety recently overtook depression as the most significant mental health concern among college students
  • COVID-19, with all of its uncertainties, can heighten students’ anxiety; Moreover, it can exacerbate all existing mental health concerns, as students may no longer feel a sense of belonging or connectedness to their university community

According to Sarah K. Lipson, Ph.D., assistant professor in the department of health law, policy and management at Boston University School of Public Health, research over the past decade has shown a steady increase in the prevalence of depression, anxiety, and suicidality among college students across the United States. “We know that some of the most important predictors of mental health and some of the biggest factors that have been targeted in terms of prevention have been trying to foster a sense of belonging and connection for students, particularly for first-year students when they arrive on campus,” Lipson told Healio Psychiatry. Campus closings and the overall response to COVID-19 have “fundamentally shifted” how college students may think about their sense of belonging. In addition to depression and loneliness, college students will also likely face increased rates of anxiety, fueled by the uncertainties surrounding COVID-19, Lipson said. “For students who are struggling with anxiety, which has surpassed depression as the most common mental health concern on college campuses, the uncertainty regarding COVID-19 is something we really need to be worried about, since it has the potential to amplify already high rates of anxiety,” Lipson added.

What would this look like in a course? 
  • Teaching teams can support students by checking in frequently and structuring class in predictable patterns.
  • Instructors should consider giving students the option for a Credit/No Credit grading system.

Gramigna, J. (2020, April 08). COVID-19’s mental health effects by age group: Children, college students, working-age adults and older adults. Retrieved August 31, 2020, from