How the COVID-19 pandemic reshaped demographic variation in mental health among diverse engineering student populations

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Australasian Journal of Engineering Education




Mental health issues have long posed a challenge on university campuses. While no population is immune, research has shown that students from marginalised backgrounds can have higher rates of mental health issues and suffer worse outcomes as a result. These discrepancies have been attributed to everything from different cultural norms to the micro-aggressions and other barriers that students from marginalised populations face on university campuses. With the onset of COVID-19 in the United States, many residential universities switched to a remote learning model, fundamentally changing the relationship between students, campus, and family support. This work uses survey data from students in the United States to explore how COVID-19 affected mental health issues among students from different backgrounds. While the pandemic drastically increased rates of depressive disorder among all respondents, discrepancies between mental health rates for women and Hispanic/Latinx compared to men and White respondents either decreased or disappeared. Additionally, respondents identifying as Asians were less likely to screen positive for several mental health conditions than White, Non-Hispanic respondents. These findings may point to important new insights about the ways in which engineering education undermines some groups’ mental health.


COVID-19, disability, ethnicity, gender, Mental health, pandemic


Computer Engineering