ASEE Annual Conference and Exposition, Conference Proceedings
In 2020, we conducted a nationwide online survey of undergraduate engineering students in the United States to examine how the novel coronavirus pandemic was affecting engineering students' mental health and what strategies they were using to cope with mental health challenges. The survey was a compilation of validated mental health instruments that screen for depression, anxiety, somatoform disorders, eating disorders, non-specific psychological distress, and post-traumatic stress disorder. Given that prior research has shown that yoga and meditation can help people suffering from anxiety, depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder, we were interested in exploring the subset of respondents who said that they were using yoga and/or meditation to cope with mental health challenges during the pandemic. The research questions addressed in this paper are: 1) What are the demographic characteristics of students who used yoga and/or meditation to cope with mental health challenges of the 2020 novel coronavirus pandemic? and 2) Does the mental health of the students who used these strategies differ in any from the mental health of students who did not use yoga and meditation coping strategies? Based on 669 responses from students at 140 different universities, we found that there were 20 survey items for which the yoga/meditation group fared statistically significantly differently than the non-yoga/meditation group. These 20 items appeared in the screens for depression, anxiety, somatoform disorders, eating disorders, non-specific psychological distress, and post-traumatic stress disorder. For example, yoga and meditation practitioners were significantly less likely to have experienced feelings of hopelessness during the prior 30 days, as well as to have experienced feelings of being so depressed that nothing could cheer them up. A causative relationship cannot be claimed, but the correlations we found align with prior research showing that yoga and meditation can support many aspects of mental health.
National Science Foundation
Kacey Beddoes and Andrew Danowitz. "Engineering Students Coping With COVID-19: Yoga, Meditation, and Mental Health" ASEE Annual Conference and Exposition, Conference Proceedings (2021).