Date Thesis Awarded


Access Type

Honors Thesis -- Open Access

Degree Name

Bachelors of Science (BS)


Kinesiology & Health Sciences


Adrian Bravo

Committee Members

Iyabo Obasanjo

Jennifer Butler


In recent years, mental health has rapidly become a public health concern and was exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. College students are a high-risk population due to the stress culture of increased rigor and workload compared to prior years of education. Existing literature has found that increased stress is associated with poor mental health, and the impact differs based socioeconomic status and coping flexibility. The present study aimed to examine the moderating effects of SES and coping flexibility on the relationships between COVID-related stress and mental health symptoms (i.e., anxiety and depression) among college students within the U.S. Participants (n = 1854) were college students recruited through their respective Psychological Sciences department for academic credit in Spring 2022 to complete a battery of questions related to COVID-19, substance use, and mental health outcomes. The demographics of the analytical sample highlighted that the majority of participants identified as female (60.4%) and were White, non-Hispanic (66%) with a mean age of 19 years (SD = 2.95). Within our moderation models, we did not find any statistically significant moderation effects (including three-way interactions). However, multiple significant main effects were found. Specifically, higher COVID-related stress was associated with higher anxiety/depressive symptoms. Further, higher coping flexibility was associated lower mental health symptoms, whereas lower SES was only associated with higher reports of depressive symptoms. Future research is needed to examine additional interactions causing increased risk or protection against poor mental health among college students when dealing with stress related to a pandemic.

Available for download on Sunday, May 11, 2025