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Increased anxiety and depression top college students' concerns in coronavirus survey

Arit John, Los Angeles Times on

Published in Health & Fitness

LOS ANGELES -- Before the coronavirus outbreak shuttered colleges, Crystal Hammond worked three paid internships and did her homework on campus or at local coffee shops. School offered her the security and opportunity to focus on her future, she said.

Now, the second-year political science student at Los Angeles City College is worried about whether her internships will continue. She uses her mobile hot spot as a Wi-Fi source. She is overhearing more disturbing domestic disputes and arguments in her apartment building in the Westlake district west of downtown. All of the abrupt changes in her life and her community have hurt her mental health.

"I am very stressed out, I'm very anxious, and I want to get rid of it," she said.

Hammond is one of more than 500 students who filled out a survey from Rise, a college affordability advocacy group, on the effects of the coronavirus outbreak. The survey found that 75% of college students who responded are dealing with higher levels of anxiety, depression and stress, and 52% have been laid off or had their work hours cut.

Rise did not conduct a scientific survey but sent the survey to its email list, posted it on social media and distributed it to the group's campus organizers. From March 18 to March 24, 521 students attending 102 colleges responded, according to the group.

"It's more personal for me," Hammond said, referring to the cause of her stress. "Who's gonna get sick first? Or who's going to be affected first? My grandpa? My grandma?"

 

The Rise survey offers a snapshot of the rising anxieties among college students as schools close across the country.

In a UCLA Undergraduate Students Assn. Council survey filled out by more than 6,000 students, several said they'd been forced to move out of the dorms on short notice, were sad to be missing the last quarter of school and felt too stressed and concerned about world events to take finals, which would have happened last week.

Among those Rise surveyed, 6% said they have been forced to drop classes, 17% said they lacked safe and reliable housing, 20% said they lacked access to a mobile device or Wi-Fi, and 28% said they lacked access to healthy meals.

Only 21% said that their lives remained unchanged, other than classes being shifted online.

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