Study: 2016 election negatively affected mental health of Muslim college students

October 05, 2020

The 2016 presidential election was linked to considerable mental health declines among Muslim college students, with religious Muslims seeing the largest declines in mental health, according to a University of Michigan researcher.

Sara Renee Abelson, a doctoral candidate at the U-M School of Public Health, and colleagues found that the proportion of Muslim students experiencing clinically significant mental health symptoms rose 7 percentage points over the changes experienced by all other students when comparing data from the 14 months post-election to the 14 months prior.

Before the election, 22% of Muslim students screened positive for depression, anxiety or an eating disorder, compared to 34% after. For non-Muslims, the portion of students who screened positive for a mental health disorder rose from 21% before the election to 26% after the election.

The findings highlight the links between sociopolitical events and mental health, with potential negative consequences for educational and social outcomes among affected groups, according to the study published this month in JAMA Pediatrics.

"Schools and other communities need to consider these concerns in their efforts to support young adults, and researchers should improve understanding of causal mechanisms and potential prevention and intervention strategies," said Abelson, the study's lead author.

"Our results suggest that the election of a politician who uses racist rhetoric and advances exclusionary policies may harm the mental health of young people in the targeted group."

Abelson and colleagues used survey data from a random sample of students 18 years and older from 90 colleges and universities participating in the Healthy Minds Study in the 14 months before and after the election. The biggest declines in mental health were:Abelson said mental health is an important part of overall health and well-being.

"Mental health is also linked to salient outcomes such as academic success, career success, lifetime earnings and more," she said. "Untreated symptoms have many downstream effects."

Abelson said she hopes the study encourages anyone serving young people to consider the potential mental health consequences of the 2020 election and to be proactive in providing support to the students most targeted by hateful rhetoric and exclusionary policies.
-end-
In addition to Abelson, authors included Sasha Zhou, who was a doctoral student at U-M's School of Public Health when the research was conducted and is now at Wayne State University; Sarah Ketchen Lipson of the Boston University School of Public Health; and senior author Daniel Eisenberg, who at the U-M School of Public Health when the research took place and is now at UCLA.

Sara Renee Abelson
JAMA Pediatrics

University of Michigan

Related Mental Health Articles from Brightsurf:

Mental health strained by disaster
A new study found that suicide rates increase during all types of disasters -- including severe storms, floods, hurricanes and ice storms -- with the largest overall increase occurring two years after a disaster.

The mental health impact of pandemics for front line health care staff
New research shows the impact that pandemics have on the mental health of front-line health care staff.

World Mental Health Day -- CACTUS releases report of largest researcher mental health survey
On the occasion of 'World Mental Health Day' 2020, CACTUS, a global scientific communications company, has released a global survey on mental health, wellbeing and fulfilment in academia.

Mental illness, mental health care use among police officers
A survey study of Texas police officers examines how common mental illness and mental health care use are in a large urban department.

COVID-19 outbreak and mental health
The use of online platforms to guide effective consumption of information, facilitate social support and continue mental health care delivery during the COVID-19 pandemic is discussed in this Viewpoint.

COVID-19 may have consequences for mental health
The COVID-19 pandemic appears to be adversely affecting mental health among hospitalised patients, the healthcare professionals treating them and the general population.

Mental health outcomes among health care workers during COVID-19 pandemic in Italy
Symptoms of posttraumatic stress disorder, depression, anxiety and insomnia among health care workers in Italy during the COVID-19 pandemic are reported in this observational study.

Mental ill health 'substantial health concern' among police, finds international study
Mental health issues among police officers are a 'substantial health concern,' with around 1 in 4 potentially drinking at hazardous levels and around 1 in 7 meeting the criteria for post traumatic stress disorder and depression, finds a pooled data analysis of the available international evidence, published online in Occupational & Environmental Medicine.

Examining health insurance nondiscrimination policies with mental health among gender minority individuals
A large private health insurance database was used to examine the association between between health insurance nondiscrimination policies and mental health outcomes for gender minority individuals.

Mental health care for adolescents
Researchers examined changes over time in the kinds of mental health problems for which adolescents in the United States received care and where they got that care in this survey study with findings that should be interpreted within the context of several limitations including self-reported information.

Read More: Mental Health News and Mental Health Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.