Subjective mental well-being among higher education students in Finland during the first wave of COVID-19

Kiira Sarasjärvi, Pia Vuolanto, Pia Solin, Kaija Appelqvist-Schmidlechner, Nina Tamminen, Marko Elovainio, Sebastian Therman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review


Increased mental health problems during the COVID-19 pandemic have become a major concern among young adults. Our aim was to understand which COVID-19-related questions predicted mental well-being during the outbreak.
Two cross-sectional datasets were used. The primary dataset was collected in May 2020 (n = 1001), during the initial COVID-19 outbreak, and the secondary in April 2019 (n = 10866), before the pandemic. Mental well-being was assessed with the Short Warwick–Edinburgh Mental Well-Being Scale. Relationships between mental well-being and COVID-19-related questions were investigated with lasso regression. As an exploratory analysis, two-way ANOVAs were used to compare mental well-being before and during the outbreak.
Higher levels of mental well-being were associated with lower levels of academic stress and COVID-19-related worry, along with a higher satisfaction with the procedures and information provided by the higher education institutions and the government. COVID-19-related symptoms and infections did not have an impact on students’ mental well-being during the outbreak. Small to moderate effect sizes across the time points were detected, indicating an overall decrease in mental well-being across age and gender during the outbreak.
COVID-19 had an impact on higher education students’ mental well-being. Higher education institutes may play a crucial role in protecting their students’ well-being during uncertain times.
Original languageEnglish
JournalScandinavian Journal of Public Health
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 2022
Publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


  • Mental well-being, SWEMWBS, COVID-19, first wave, higher education, Finland, cross-sectional

Publication forum classification

  • Publication forum level 1


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