Background: Mental health problems among undergraduates are a significant public health concern. Most studies exploring mental health in this population during the pandemic have been conducted in high-income countries. Fewer studies come from Latin American countries. The aim of this study was to determine the prevalence of depression, anxiety, stress, insomnia, and suicide risk, and explore the association with several relevant variables in personal, family, university, and SARS-CoV-2 pandemic domains. Methods: A cross-sectional study was conducted in Chile in a medium-size private University. Outcome variables were explored with valid instruments: Depression, Anxiety, and Stress Scale (DASS-21), Insomnia Severity Index (ISI), and the Columbia-Suicide Severity Rating Scale (C-SSRS). Independent variables from personal (e.g., sex, age, sexual orientation, history of mental health problems, substance use), family (e.g., parental educational background, family history of mental health problems, family functioning), university (e.g., course year, financial support, psychological sense of university belonging, history of failing subjects) and SARS-CoV-2 domains (e.g., history of personal and family contagion, fear of contracting SARS-CoV-2, frequency of physical activity, keeping routines and social contact). Multivariable logistic regression models were conducted for each outcome, after univariable and domain-specific multivariable models. The significant variable at each step was selected if the p-value was ≤ 0.05. Results: A total of 5,037 students answered the survey—the global response rate of 63.5%. Most of the students were females (70.4%) and freshmen students (25.2%). The prevalence of mental health problems was high: depression (37.1%), anxiety (37.9%), and stress (54.6%). Insomnia was reported in 32.5% of students, and suicide risk in 20.4% of students. The associated variables at personal domain were history of mental health problems, substance use, and sexual orientation; at family domain, family functioning and family history of mental health problems; at university domain, violence victimization and sense of belonging; and in SARS-CoV-2 domain, having a daily routine and fear to contracting SARS-CoV-2 by students themselves or others. Conclusions: The prevalence of mental health problems is high among undergraduate students and some of the associated factors, such as victimization and a sense of belonging can be used in preventive interventions.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
Thanks to Universidad de los Andes collaborators: Jorge Bravo for his excitement and help to invite and motivate students to answer the survey, Claudio Veliz for his help in obtaining University directives collaboration, and María José Pizarro for her suggestions about using the family APGAR score. Finally, special thanks to all the students who participated in this study.
This research was funded by Fondo de Desarrollo Institucional, línea Emprendimiento Estudiantil 2019, UAN 1901. Ministry of Education, Chile; Social Responsibility Department, Universidad de los Andes, Chile, and by ANID—Millennium Science Initiative Program—NCS2021_081.
Copyright © 2022 Valdés, Díaz, Christiansen, Lorca, Solorza, Alvear, Ramírez, Nuñez, Araya and Gaete.
- mental health
- suicide risk