Factors Influencing Mental Health Outcomes of University Personnel During the COVID-19 Pandemic

  • Rebecca Holland The University of Southern Mississippi
  • Melissa Kay Kossman The University of Southern Mississippi
  • Leslie W. Oglesby The University of Southern Mississippi
  • Morgan R. Eckenrod The University of Southern Mississippi
  • Abigail S. Willis The University of Southern Mississippi
  • Anna K. Porter Environment & Health, Ramboll
Keywords: mental health, social distancing, community-based, resiliency, grit


Background: Previous research links the COVID-19 pandemic to negative effects on physical and mental health; however, little is known about how those effects can be mitigated. Additionally, college campuses experience mental health issues regularly, which were heightened during the pandemic. Purpose: The purpose of this study was to describe the current status of mental health within a university community and identify factors associated with excessive worry during the COVID-19 pandemic, such as mental health, resilience, grit, and other demographic factors. Methods: A questionnaire examining five domains (demographics, COVID-19 distancing behaviors, physical, mental, and social and economic health) was created, validated, and distributed to a college campus in the Southeastern United States. Unadjusted and adjusted ordinal logistic regression models were used to examine the cross-sectional association between worry and mental health measures while controlling for resilience and grit. Results: Participants (n=162) experienced varying levels of stress, anxiety, and depression with moderate levels of resilience (mean=3.76±0.59) and grit (mean=3.32±0.38) and some level of pandemic-related worry. Participants with mild anxiety and stress, and moderate/severe anxiety, stress, and depression were more worried, mitigated by resiliency. Conclusion: Resiliency is an important mitigating factor for mental health; college/university campuses should prioritize establishing resilience within their community.