HomePsychology and Education: A Multidisciplinary Journalvol. 3 no. 5 (2022)

PM is the Key: Perceived Stress and Mental Health as the Key Indicator of Wellbeing of Selected College Online Students in the Philippines During COVID-19 Pandemic

Gladys Canillo | Raquel Cantos | Jigo Rafael Catamio | Darwin Diola | Emna Duque | Edlyn Joy Espiritu | Aldin Pantaleon | John Mark S. Distor

Discipline: Education



The COVID-19 pandemic had a significant impact on students' mental health. Monitoring and managing the students' wellbeing during a crisis such as this pandemic is a priority. In this study, the researchers' main objective is to determine the relationship between perceived stress and the mental health of selected college online students in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic. A total of 307 college online students served as the respondents to this research, where two instruments were used: (a) Perceived Stress Scale (PSS-10), which measured Perceived Stress; and (b) Mental Health Inventory-18 (MHI), which assessed the respondents' Mental Health. The researchers utilized statistical methods such as frequency, percentage, mean, standard deviation, one-way analysis of variance, and Pearson r correlation to analyze the data. It was also found out that perceived stress and mental health have a significant negative relationship, implying that the higher the students’ perceived stress, the lower their mental health and vice-versa. Moreover, the respondents have low anxiety levels and moderate degrees for depression, behavioral control, and positive affect, respectively. Furthermore, the study revealed that a higher percentage of stress has a lesser influence on one’s positive affect than anxiety, depression, and behavioral control. Therefore, it suggests that high behavioral control is an important factor in students' healthy mental state in this time of the pandemic. Finally, the gathered information may also serve as a basis for developing students’ wellness programs.


  1. Alateeq, D. et. al. (2020).Perceived stress among students in virtual classrooms during the COVID-19 outbreak in KSA. Journal of Taibah University Medical Sciences
  2. Alam, A. (2020). Challenges and possibilities of online education during Covid-19. Preprints, 2020, 2020060013.
  3. American Psychological Association (2020). Coping with COVID19-related stress as a student “With schools around the country closed, students are facing unprecedented change.
  4. Anand, K.B., Karade, S., Sen, S., Gupta, R.M., 2020. SARS-CoV-2: camazotz's curse. Med. J. Armed Forces India 76, 136–141.
  5. Araújo, F. J. d. O., de Lima, L. S. A., Cidade, P. I. M., Nobre, C. B., & Neto, M. L. R. (2020). Impact Of Sars-Cov-2 And Its Reverberation In Global Higher Education And Mental Health. Psychiatry Research, 288, 112977.
  6. Augusto & Scorsolini-Comin, Fabio (2021). Mental Health and Coping Strategies in Undergraduate Students During COVID-19 Pandemic (Original Article). Trends in Psychology, Springer.
  7. Baticulon RE, Alberto NR, Baron MB, et al. (2020). Barriers to online learning in the time of COVID-19: A national survey of medical students in the Philippines. medRxiv 2020.07.16.20155747;
  8. Bovier, P.A., Chamot, E. & Perneger, T.V. Perceived stress, internal resources, and social support as determinants of mental health among young adults. Qual Life Res 13, 161–170 (2004).
  9. Browning, Matthew H. E. M., Larson, Lincoln R., Sharaievska, Iryna, Rigolon, Alessandro, McAnirlin, Olivia, Mullenbach, Lauren, Cloutier, Scott, Vu, Tue M., Thomsen, Jennifer, Reigner, Nathan, Metcalf, Elizabeth Covelli, D’Antonio, Ashley, Helbich, Marco, Bratman, Gregory N., Alvarez, Hector Olvera (2021). Psychological impacts from COVID-19 among university students: Risk factors across seven states in the United States. PLOS ONE, 16(1), h
  10. Cao W, Fang Z, Hou G, Han M, Xu X, Dong J, et al. The psychological impact of the COVID-19 epidemic on college students in China. Psychiatry Res. (2020) 287:112934. doi: 10.1016/j.psychres.2020.112934
  11. Center for Collegiate Mental Health. University Park, PA: Penn State University; 2020. [2020-05-11]. 2019 annual report.
  12. CHED (2020). Table 3. Higher Education Enrollment by Discipline Group: AY 2010-11 to 2019-20.
  13. Cohen, S., Kamarck, T., & Mermelstein, R. (1983). A global measure of perceived stress. Journal of Health and Social Behavior, 24, 385-396.
  14. Czeisler M.É., Lane, R.I., Petrosky, E., Wiley, J.F., Christensen, A., Rashid Njai, R., Weaver, M.D., Robbins, R., Facer-Childs, E.R., Barger, L.K., Czeisler, C.A., Howard, M.E., & Rajaratnam, S.M.W. (August 14, 2020). Mental Health, Substance Use, and Suicidal Ideation During the COVID-19 Pandemic – United States. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
  15. Dewaele, J. M., Magdalena, A. F., & Saito, K. (2019). The effect of perception of teacher characteristics on Spanish EFL learners’ anxiety and enjoyment. The Modern Language Journal, 103(2), 412–427.
  16. Dohrenwend, B. (1973). Life Events as Stressors: A Methodological Inquiry. Journal of Health and Social Behavior, 14(2), 167-175.
  17. Estacio, Randel D., Lumibao, Dianne D., Reyes, Erlee Angel S. & Avila, Meldred O. (2020). Gender Difference in Self-Reported Symptoms of Cabin Fever among Quezon City University Students during the Covid19 Pandemic, International Journal of Scientific and Research Publications, 10(9),
  18. Fazel, M. et. al. (2015). Mental health interventions in schools in high-income countries. Lancet Psychiatry. 2014 Oct; 1(5): 377– 387.doi: 10.1016/S2215-0366(14)70312-8
  19. Folkman, S. (1984). Personal control and stress and coping processes: a theoretical analysis. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 46(4), 839–852. doi:10.1037/0022-3514.46.4.839.
  20. Folkman, S., & Moskowitz, J. T. (2007). Positive affect and meaning focused coping during significant psychological stress. In M. Hewstone, H. A. W. Schut, J. B. F. De Wit, K. Van Den Bos, & M. S. Stroebe (Eds.), The scope of social psychology: theory and applications (pp. 193–208). New York: Psychology Press.
  21. Gao, W., Ping, S., & Liu, X. (2020). Gender differences in depression, anxiety, and stress among college Students: A longitudinal study from China. Journal of Affective Disorders, 263, 292–300.
  22. Hernandez-Torrano, Daniel, et.al. (2020). Mental Health and WellBeing of University Students: A Bibliometric Mapping of the Literature. Frontiers in Psychology/Psychology for Clinical Settings.
  23. Hernando-Malipot, M. (2020, July 03). DepEd: Most students prefer 'modular' learning over online. Retrieved October 29, 2020,
  24. High Focus Centers. (2020). The Effects of Online Learning of a Teen’s Mental Health.
  25. Holmes, T., & Rahe, R. (1967). The Social Reajustment Rating Scale. Journal of Psychosomatic Research, 12,(4), p. 213–233.
  26. IAU. (2020). Covid-19: Higher Education challenges and responses. Retrieved November 06, 2020,
  27. Karam, Daljit Singh; Rajoo, Keeren Sundara; Muharam, Farrah Melissa; Zulperi, Dzarifah, (2020). A Short Communication on Indoor-Based Therapies to Reduce Stress During the COVID-19 Pandemic. Journal of Pharmaceutical and Medicinal Research,
  28. Kecojevic, Aleksandar, Basch, Corey H., Sullivan, Marianne & Davi, Nicole K. (2020). The impact of the COVID-19 epidemic on mental health of undergraduate students in New Jersey, crosssectional study. PLOS ONE.
  29. Khoshaim, H. et. al (2020). Anxiety Level of University Students During COVID-19 in Saudi Arabia. Frontier in Psychiatry. Mood and Anxiety Disorder.
  30. Kumar, Vijay; Chawla, Nishu; Gupta, Shipra; Aanad, Jigisha, (2020). Children Coping with Stress During Lockdown. International Journal of Current Research and Review,
  31. Lazarus, R. S., & Folkman, S. (1984). Stress, appraisal, and coping. New York: Springer.
  32. Lazarus, R. S. (1999). Stress and emotion: A new synthesis. New York: Springer. doi:10.1046/j.1365-2850.1999.00227-9.x.
  33. Lei, Xiaosheng , Liu, Chaojie & Jiang, Heng (2021). Mental health of college students and associated factors in Hubei of China. PLOS ONE.
  34. Madebo, W. E., Yosef, T. T., & Tesfaye, M. S. (2016). Assessment of Perceived stress level and associated factors among health science students at Debre Birehane University, North Shoa zone Of AMHARA REGION, ETHIOPIA. Health Care: Current Reviews, 4(2). "Mental health: strengthening our response" World Health Organization (WHO). August 2014. MentalHealth.gov. (2020). What is Mental Health?
  35. Mohammad, Khoshaim, Heba Bakr, Hossain, Syed Far Abid & Sukayt, Areej (2020). Psychological Impact of COVID-19 and Lockdown among University Students in Malaysia: Implications and Policy Recommendations. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, !7(17),
  36. Montemayor, M. (2020, July 21). 21.7M learners enrolled for incoming school year: DepEd.
  37. Muñoz, C. (2021). Mental Health Implications of Virtual Learning of Student Engagement.
  38. Official Gazette Philippines, 2020. Memorandum from the executive secretary on community quarantine over the entire luzon and further guidelines for the management of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) situation.
  39. Patias, Naiana Dapieve, Hohendorff, Jean Von, Cozzer, Alisson Junior Pedro Augusto Flores, Pedro Augusto & Scorsolini-Comin, Fabio (2021). Mental Health and Coping Strategies in Undergraduate Students During COVID-19 Pandemic (Original Article). Trends in Psychology, Springer.
  40. Pearlin, L. I. (1999). Stress and mental health: A conceptual overview. In A. V. Horwitz & T. L. Scheid (Eds.), A handbook for the study of mental health: Social contexts, theories, and systems (p. 161–175). Cambridge University Press.
  41. Phillips A.C. (2015) Perceived Stress. In: Gellman M.D., Turner J.R. (eds) Encyclopedia of Behavioral Medicine. Springer, New York, NY
  42. Prowse, R., Sherratt, F., Abizaid, A., Gabrys, R. L., Hellemans, K. G., Patterson, Z. R., & McQuaid, R. J. (2021). Coping with the covid-19 pandemic: Examining gender differences in stress and mental health among university students. Frontiers in Psychiatry, 12.
  43. Racic, M., Todorovic, R., Ivkovic, N., Masic, S. Joksimovic, B., & Kulic Milan (2017). Self- Perceived Stress in Relation to Anxiety, Depression and Health-related Quality of Life among Health Professions Students: A Cross-sectional Study from Bosnia and Herzegovina. US National Library of Medicine National Institute of Health
  44. Rohman, M., Marji, D. A. S., Sugandi, R. M., & Nurhadi, D. (2020). Online learning in higher education during covid-19 pandemic: students’ perceptions. Journal of Talent Development and Excellence, 12(2s), 3644–3651
  45. Rosse, J. G., & Hulin, C. L. (1985). Adaptation to work: an analysis of employee health, withdrawal, and change. Organization of Behavior and Human Decision Processes, 36, 324–347. doi:10.1016/0749- 5978(85)90003-2.
  46. Saleh, D, Camart, N, Romo, L. Predictors of Stress in College Students. Frontier in Psychology. Psychology for Clinical Settings.
  47. Schuler, R. S. (1986). Organizational stress and coping: A model and overview. In A. Sethi & R. Schuler (Eds.), Handbook of organizational stress coping strategies (pp. 35–67). Cambridge: Ballinger Publishing
  48. Siegrist, S., Junge, A. Conceptual and methodological problems in research on the quality of life in clinical medicine, Social Science & Medicine, Volume 29, Issue 3, 1989, Pages 463-468,ISSN 0277-9536,
  49. Smith, Melinda, Segal, Robert, Robinson, Lawrence & Segal, Jeanne (2021). Well-Being and Happiness: Building Better Mental Health. HELPGUIDEORG INTERNATIONAL.
  50. Son, C., Hegde, S., Smith, A., Wang, X., & Sasangohar, F. (2020). Effects of covid-19 on College Students’ mental health in the United States: INTERVIEW survey study. Journal of Medical Internet Research, 22(9).
  51. Sundarasen, Sheela, Chinna, Karuthan, Kamaludin, Kamilah, Nurunnabi, Mohammad, Baloch, Gul Mohammad, Khoshaim, Heba Bakr, Hossain, Syed Far Abid & Sukayt, Areej (2020). Psychological Impact of COVID-19 and Lockdown among University Students in Malaysia: Implications and Policy Recommendations. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, !7(17),
  52. Torres-Montiel, S., Pelaez-Hernandez, V., Robles-Uribe, B., PerezCabañAs, E., Figueroa-Herrera, F., Orea-Tejeda, A., Gonzalez-Islas, D., Sanchez-Santillan, R., Verdeja-Vendrell, L., Perez-Cortes, G., Navarrete-PeñAloza, A., Castillo-Aguilar, L., & Jimenez-Cepeda, A. (2017). Gender differences in perceived stress, psychological wellbeing and therapeutic compliance. General Practice and Primary Care, 50(61).
  53. Turna, J., Zhang, J., Lamberti, N., Patterson, B., Simpson, W., Francisco, A. P., Bergmann, C. G., & Ameringen, M. V. (2021). Anxiety, depression and stress during the Covid-19 Pandemic: Results from a cross-sectional survey. Journal of Psychiatric Research, 137, 96–103.
  54. Ulrich-Lai, Y., Herman, J. Neural regulation of endocrine and autonomic stress responses. Nat Rev Neurosci 10, 397–409 (2009)
  55. Unger K. Handbook on Supported Education: Providing Services for Students With Psychiatric Disabilities. Charleston, SC: BookSurge Publishing; 2007.
  56. U.S. National Library of Medicine (2021). How to Improve Mental Health. MedilinePlus.
  57. Vaughn, S. (2013). Why is it important for schools to focus on intensive interventions?. National Center on Intensive Intervention.
  58. Veit, C., Ware, J. (1983). The structure of psychological distress and well-being in general populations. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 51, 730-732.
  59. Wang, Xiaomei, Hegde, Sudeep, Son, Changwon, Keller, Bruce, Smith, Alec & Sasangohar, Farzan (2020). Investigating Mental Health of US College Students During the COVID-19 Pandemic: Cross-Sectional Survey Study (Original Paper). Journal of Medical Internet Research, 22(9),
  60. World Health Organization (2020). Doing What Matters in Times of Stress: An Illustrated Guide
  61. World Health Organization (2002). Gender and Mental Health. Department of Gender and Women’s Health. 20, Avenue Appia Geneva, Switzerland. WHO, editor. Mental health action plan 2013–2020. Geneva, Switzerland: World Health Organization; 2014.
  62. Yang C, Chen A, Chen Y (2021) College students’ stress and health in the COVID-19 pandemic: The role of academic workload, separation from school, and fears of contagion. PLoS ONE 16(2): e0246676.
  63. Yao H, Chen J‐H, Xu Y‐F. Patients with mental health disorders in the COVID‐19 epidemic. Lancet Psychiatry. 2020;7(4):e21 10.1016/S2215-0366(20)30090-0. Accessed May 03, 2020. [PMC free article] [PubMed] [CrossRef] [Google Scholar]