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U.S. agricultural university students' mental well‐being and resilience during the first wave of COVID‐19: Discordant expectations and experiences across genders

Mariah Tanner Ehmke (), Bhagyashree Katare, Kristin Kiesel, Jason Bergtold (), Jerrod M. Penn and Kathryn A. Boys

Applied Economic Perspectives and Policy, 2022, vol. 44, issue 1, 129-161

Abstract: The coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID‐19) pandemic's first wave led to declining mental health and life satisfaction outcomes for college students, especially women. While women in undergraduate agricultural programs outperformed men academically prior to and during the pandemic, the achievement may have come at personal cost, especially for those women with fewer personal and environmental resiliency resources. Our research objective was to expand on personal, social, and environmental factors linked with lower mental health and life satisfaction scores for students in agriculture during the pandemic. We measured the influence of such factors across gender‐based mental health and life satisfaction outcomes. Our data were collected from 2030 students using an on‐line survey across six land‐grant university college of agriculture in agriculturally as many distinct regions of the United States. We estimated OLS and Ordered Probit models of their mental health and life satisfaction self‐assessments. Our findings reveal students' mental health and life satisfaction were reduced due to a paucity of personal (e.g., less future orientation or graduate school aspirations, food and housing insecurity, and personal health risks) and environmental (e.g., lower quality on‐line learning experiences, isolation, family health risk, discrimination experiences) resiliency resources. Our results suggest women were more likely than men to be adversely affected by reduced resiliency resources. These findings suggest university emergency response policies need to address students' needs for housing and food security, on‐line course development and delivery, tele health and mental health resources, broad social inclusion and diversity to decrease risk of female attrition and support all students in agricultural degree programs.

Date: 2022
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https://doi.org/10.1002/aepp.13233

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