COVID-19, Race, and Student/Postdoctoral Fellow Mental Health Study

Principal Investigators:  Drs. Robin Lanzi, Lisa Schwiebert, Angela Stowe

UAB Research Study Collaboration informs UAB about how to support student mental health and wellbeing.

The UAB School of Public Health, Student Counseling Services, and Graduate School are collaborating to conduct a comprehensive prevention-focused, multicomponent, coordinated, multisectoral and collaborative longitudinal mixed-methods study of the impact of COVID-19 and race on student mental health. COVID 19 Race and Student Mental Health 2

UAB is deeply committed to suicide prevention and supporting student mental health and wellbeing. Today’s college students are oftentimes referred to as the “anxious generation” with the increased use of social media and awareness about mental health. Sadly, 39% of students (i.e., 2 out of 5) in college experience a significant mental health issue with only 28% of youth with a major depressive episode receiving treatment. Suicide is the 2nd leading cause of death among college students nationally.

Given the current state of affairs, we believe it is essential to reach out to our students and explore how they are doing, how they are coping, and what they need in order to be successful in pursuing their personal, academic, and career goals while attending UAB. Participants include undergraduate, graduate, and professional students as well as postdoctoral fellows.


The results of the research studies will inform administrators, leaders, student organizations, departments and faculty on campus about the experiences of students regarding COVID-19 and race and the impact of these experiences on student mental health. The results of this study will help UAB better understand how to support student mental health and wellbeing.

3 Phases of the Study

Phase 3: Focus Groups: Ongoing Fall 2021

The research team is currently conducting focus groups with key stakeholders (students, faculty, staff, administration) across campus to get their perspectives on study findings thus far and implications for policy and practice. If you are interested in participating in a focus group, please contact Robin Lanzi at .

 

Phase 2: Longitudinal Study (October 2020 – April 2021): Complete

A 9-month longitudinal study was conducted to learn about the experiences of undergraduate, graduate and professional students and postdoctoral fellows during COVID-19 and the impact of the pandemic as well as race on mental health and wellbeing.

Participants completed the following as part of the study:

  1. A baseline survey and an in-depth interview
  2. Monthly follow up questionnaires, including the Generalized Anxiety Disorder 7-item scale (GAD-7), Patient Health Questionnaire (PHQ-9), and the Warwick-Edinburgh Mental Health Well-being Scale (WEMWBS).
  3. End of study survey and in-depth interview.

 

Phase 1: All Campus Survey (Summer 2020): Complete

During the summer of 2020, 1518 undergraduate, graduate and professional students and postdoctoral fellows completed an anonymous survey that included questions about the impact of events during COVID-19 and events around racial justice on research, academic progress, stress levels, and mental health.

Coping strategies and opportunities for input for on-campus support were also asked. Results of this survey are under analysis and will be reported in the coming months to help inform campus leaders and other institutions of higher education about the experiences of students and postdoctoral fellows and what support resources may be most helpful.

 

Partnership and Funding

Phases 1 and 2 Funded by the UAB School of Public Health Back of the Envelope Grant, with additional support from The Graduate School, Student Counseling Services, Faculty Research Funds, and the Office of Service Learning and Undergraduate Research.

Researchers

Robin Lanzi Photo

Robin Lanzi, PhD, MPH

Principal Investigator
Professor and Graduate Program Director
Department of Health Behavior, UAB School of Public Health
Co-Founder and Faculty Director, UAB Mental Health Ambassadors
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DrAngela Stowe

Angela Stowe, Ph.D., LPC, NCC, BC-TMH

Director, Student Counseling Services
Adjunct Professor, Department of Health Behavior, UAB School of Public Health
Chair, UAB Suicide Prevention Initiative
Co-Founder and Clinical Director, UAB Mental Health Ambassadors
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Lisa Schwiebert, Ph.D.

Lisa Schwiebert, Ph.D.

Professor of Cell, Developmental and Integrative Biology
Senior Associate Dean for Graduate and Postdoctoral Affairs
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