Document Type


Date of Degree Completion

Spring 2021

Degree Name

Master of Public Health (MPH)


Health Sciences

Committee Chair

Tishra Beeson

Second Committee Member

Amie Wojtyna

Third Committee Member

Casey Mace-Firebaugh


Objective: This study examined the effects of the COVID-19 global pandemic on the mental health and well-being of college students residing in a rural community. Eligible students reported on their mental health statuses, coping strategies, distresses, demographics, and original items to capture students’ experiences. Participants: Participants were 372 undergraduate and graduate student's living in residence halls or on-campus housing enrolled in a public university between January and March 2021. Methods: Univariate and bivariate statistical analyses were utilized. Open-text responses about navigating mental health challenges during the COVID-19 pandemic are summarized. Results: Students who identified as LGBTQ+ (pp=0.0022) scored significantly higher in depressive symptoms, while year in school, race, or ethnicity did not appear to play a role in overall mental health status. Conclusion: This study can be used to help enhance current mental health services offered on-campus, especially for students who face higher burden of mental health risks.

Available for download on Wednesday, June 10, 2026