The COVID-19 pandemic is a global public health crisis. During the COVID-19 pandemic, mental health has attracted great attention. However, there is a lack of research on the relationship between academic stress and depression in Chinese college students and its mechanisms. Therefore, this study investigated the mechanisms of coping style, sleep quality, and interpersonal relationship in academic stress and depression among college students.
The cross-sectional study was conducted from May to June 2022 through face-to-face questionnaires with college students in Anhui Province, China. The questionnaires included sociodemographic information, the Simplified Coping Style Questionnaire, and the Self-Rating Depression Scale. Ordered logistic regression model was used to study the relationship between academic stress and depression of college students during the COVID-19 pandemic through the mechanism analysis of coping style, sleep quality and interpersonal relationship.
Two thousand thirty-three Chinese college students participated in the study, including 1,285 female and 748 male college students, with an average age 19.81 years old (SD = 1.22 years old). The results showed that (1) Academic stress had a significant impact on depression in college students under the background of COVID-19 (p < 0.01); (2) The influence of academic stress on depression had a difference in work experience as student cadres, which showed that college students who had served as student cadres were less affected by academic stress (p < 0.10), college students who had not served as student cadres were greatly affected by the academic stress (p < 0.05); (3) College students’ attitudes toward COVID-19 significantly affected depression (p < 0.01); (4) Counselors’ concern had a significant impact on college students’ depression (p < 0.01); (5) Positive coping style, high quality sleep and good interpersonal relationship were the important mechanisms of the impact of academic stress on college students’ depression.
This study provides new findings for in-depth understanding of the relationship between academic stress and depression among college students in China during the COVID-19 pandemic, which is conducive to the provision of targeted intervention measures for the mental health of college students.