206714 Addressing Psychological Distress on College Campuses

Monday, November 9, 2009

DeAnnah Byrd, MS , School of Public Health, UCLA, Los Angeles, CA

Colleges and universities report unprecedented numbers of students in psychological distress. Nationally, nearly half of all college students report feeling so depressed that they have trouble functioning.


To improve the mental health and wellbeing of students, the 2006 UCLA Student Development Survey examined student success by exploring the connections between health, student development and the college environment.


An online cross-sectional survey of 2,203 students currently enrolled at UCLA. Psychological distress was ascertained using a scale adopted from RAND, which is comprised of twelve individual items that were combined into an overall psychological distress index. Stepwise regression was used to estimate the impact of the campus environment and demographic characteristics on psychological distress.


Most (70%) respondents were female, undergraduates (72%), Asian or Asian American (43%) or Caucasian (38%) students. 27% of students were foreign born and 34% reported that English was not their first language. 27% of students reported feeling depressed at times. After adjusting for demographic characteristics, the regression model explained 53% of the variation in psychological distress (R2=0.527). 15 variables entered the regression equation, but emotional distress was the strongest contributor to greater levels of psychological distress.


The mental health needs of college students have evolved. Our sample resembles the increasingly diverse and changing demographic of today's college students and these factors should be considered when evaluating students' mental health needs. Findings indicate that students are experiencing problems with psychological distress, which in turn affects their education, wellbeing and involvement in campus life activities.

Learning Objectives:
Recognize the growing campus mental health crisis, which affects the health and well being of students. Recognize that psychological distress and other mental health problems can have a profound impact on academic success and achievement. Identify specific resources and/or programs universities can offer, which have a positive impact on mental health, academic success, and retention.

Keywords: Mental Health, College Students

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I currently work with the Student Development and Health Education Departement as a Doctoral Student Researcher.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.

See more of: Mental Health Poster Session
See more of: Mental Health