Date of Award


Document Type

Doctoral Research Project

Degree Name

Doctor of Psychology (PsyD)



First Advisor

Victoria M. Follette

Second Advisor

Vanessa A. Edkins

Third Advisor

Rachael E.Tilka

Fourth Advisor

Robert Taylor


College students endure a great deal of stress and are one of the most vulnerable groups for mental health difficulties. Despite the stressors they face, a vast array of research highlights several factors that contribute to student wellbeing, such as social support, coping, and psychological flexibility. Similar trends have been found in the literature on student distress and wellbeing following large-scale crises. Due to the unprecedented nature of COVID-19, there is limited research on student distress levels during the pandemic and the effectiveness of these previously useful stress management factors during this unique crisis. Therefore, the current study assessed student mental health during COVID-19 and examined the predictive relationships between social support, coping styles, experiential avoidance, and COVID-19 exposure on distress. A theoretical framework of experiential avoidance was used to understand student distress. Results demonstrated that experiential avoidance was a significant predictor of all forms of distress measured. Furthermore, problem-focused coping significantly predicted anxiety and avoidant/dysfunctional coping significantly predicted COVID-19 related stress. Implications of these findings are discussed.


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