Female Undergraduate College Students Experience More Stress and Worry: Report

According to a new report, female undergraduate college students are also less likely to report experiencing enjoyment while in school than their male counterparts.
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Jessica Bryant
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Jessica Bryant is a higher education analyst and senior data reporter for BestColleges. She covers higher education trends and data, focusing on issues impacting underserved students. She has a BA in journalism and previously worked with the South Fl...
Published on August 18, 2023
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  • A majority of female college students reported experiencing daily stress or worry during the spring 2023 academic term.
  • Female students were, on average, 21% more likely to report experiencing negative daily emotions.
  • Past research reveals that female students are additionally more likely to be diagnosed with mental health disorders.
  • Gallup anticipates that negative mental health and emotions among college students will persist in fall 2023.

A new report from Gallup reveals that female college students are struggling with negative daily emotions.

The organization surveyed more than 2,400 undergraduate students in March 2023 and found that high percentages of female students report experiencing stress (72%), worry (56%), loneliness (41%), and sadness (40%) much of the day prior to the survey.

Female students were also less likely than their male peers to report they experienced enjoyment a lot of the day just prior to when they were surveyed (72% vs. 83%).

On average, female students are 21% more likely to report experiencing negative emotions on a daily basis.

Historically, female students have always been at least somewhat more likely to report experiencing negative mental health and emotions than their male peers. They are also more likely to be diagnosed with mental health disorders.

A 2022 report from the American College Health Association found that undergraduate students who are cisgender women were more likely than cisgender men to test positive for loneliness (54% vs. 50%) and serious psychological distress (26% vs. 17%).

During the same year, they were additionally more likely to be diagnosed with or treated for anxiety (41% vs. 24%) and depression (28% vs. 18%) within 12 months of being surveyed.

And in a 2022 BestColleges survey of undergraduate students, 54% of women reported that their mental health had worsened since they had been in school compared to 47% of men.

Despite being more likely to report experiencing worsening mental health and negative emotions, surveyed college women were also more likely to spend time making an effort to improve or maintain their mental health nearly every day (56% vs. 50%).

Overall, more than half of undergraduate students reported to Gallup that they felt stress (66%) or worry (51%) most of the day prior to being surveyed.

And while the vast majority also reported experiencing enjoyment (76%), it's clear that negative emotions and mental health are continuing to plague college students.

Gallup anticipates that the increased negative mental health on campuses first noticed at the start of the pandemic will continue into the fall 2023 term. And institutions will have to continue offering campus resources to help their students combat these feelings and find success in school.