Written by Joanna Hughes

The 2016 US presidential election was stressful for many people. Some students were impacted to the point of showing post-traumatic stress disorder symptoms, according to Arizona State University researchers. Here’s a closer look at the study, as recently reported by The Guardian.

From Anecdote to Evidence

After hearing “anecdotal reports” from students about the stress they experienced during the Trump-Clinton contest, researchers decided to investigate by performing a psychological assessment known as the 'Impact of Event Scale'. They found some students had scores comparable to those of mass shooting witnesses.

Lead author Melissa Hagan said of the results, which were published in the Journal of American College Health, “What we were interested in seeing was: did the election for some people constitute a traumatic experience? And we found that it did for 25 percent of young adults.”

“Clinically Significant” Stress Levels

In addition to revealing those a quarter of students had potentially diagnosable PTSD, the study also determined that some student groups were more affected than others.

Women scored approximately 45 percent higher than their male classmates in terms of stress, while Democrats ranked two and a half times higher than Republican peers. And while the gap was less noticeable, black and Hispanic students also had higher assessment scores than white students.

According to researchers, these disparities may be attributable to both Trump's “controversial rhetoric” and his surprise win. “There was a lot of discourse around race, identity and what makes a valuable American," said Hagan. “I think that really heightened stress for a lot of people.”

If you are a student who’s struggling with a mental health condition, you can read more about university mental health services here.

Joanna worked in higher education administration for many years at a leading research institution before becoming a full-time freelance writer. She lives in the beautiful White Mountains region of New Hampshire with her family.
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