High rates of psychological distress including anxiety and depression are common in the doctoral community. With the COVID-19 pandemic taking a toll on mental health it is necessary to explore the riskand protective factors for this population. Using data from the Covid-19: Global Study of Social Trust and Mental Health, the present study examined the relationship between COVID-19-related cumulativestressful educational experiences and doctoral students’mental health problems. Moreover, it assessed therole of attentional ability and coping skills in promoting good mental health.Mental health problems were assessed using the 9-item Patient Health Questionnaire and the 7-itemGeneralized Anxiety Disorder Questionnaire to measure depression and anxiety symptoms, respectively.We measured coping skills using a 14-item questionnaire and attentional ability using a 7-itemquestionnaire.
The results of multiple linear regression analyses showed that cumulative stressful educational experiencewere related to increased depression symptoms but not anxiety symptoms in fully adjusted models.Additionally, coping skills and attentional ability were related to both depression and anxiety symptoms.Finally, no associations between mental health problems and demographic factors or other covariates werefound.
The experience of multiple educational stressful events due to COVID-19 is a key risk factor for increasedmental illness in the doctoral community. This could be explained by the uncertainty that the COVID-19pandemic has caused to the students.