Research Topic

Psychological Distress among University Students

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About this Research Topic

As suggested by Arnett in 2000, the “emerging adulthood” is a phase of development characterized by many transitions and challenging tasks. Furnham and Miller, in 2004 and 2017 respectively, underlined, in particular, the role of emancipation, autonomy, and identity formation (interwoven with gender and ...

As suggested by Arnett in 2000, the “emerging adulthood” is a phase of development characterized by many transitions and challenging tasks. Furnham and Miller, in 2004 and 2017 respectively, underlined, in particular, the role of emancipation, autonomy, and identity formation (interwoven with gender and sexual identities), the construction of relationships and of the basis for their future life.

For some young men and women, this phase coincides with their university years. Entering higher education implies further tasks, such as transferring, performance demands, changes in living conditions, career choices, and dealing with a social and educational context far from the ones experienced before. Many studies point out high levels of psychological distress in university students, specifically depression, anxiety, and suicide risk. Moreover, trauma is a common occurrence, with a percentage ranging from 52% to 85%, of whom 9% to 59% of students might risk developing post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Childhood abuse, accident or assault are examples of these traumas. The prevalence rates imply that trauma reactions vary between individuals. Whilst some students will rise above, come to terms and cope effectively with the trauma effect, some will experience high levels of distress, social impairment, and difficulty in interpersonal relationships.
These are matters of particular interest worldwide because, as suggested by previous studies, students with psychological distress show a higher risk of academic failures and drop-out.

Exploring psychological distress, individual differences, risk factors or underlying psychological mechanisms for developing psychological sequelae (such as PTSD) among university students is what underpins the current call for manuscripts. Original research or innovative theoretical frameworks should constitute the main features of the article. Authors are welcome to submit original manuscripts with university students as the focused sample.

Topics include, but are not limited to:
– mental health and psychological distress among university students;
– the interface between PTSD, personality traits, coping strategies, distress and/or academic performance;
– the association between defense mechanisms, distorted cognitions, emotional regulation, distress and/or academic performance;
– the link between attachment types, distress and/or academic performance;
– psychological distress and academic performances across cultures;
– the specific role of child abuse on distress and/or academic performance;
– psychological interventions for university students.

The Guest Editors would like to express their profound gratitude to Dr Isabella Giulia Franzoi for her valuable work in initiating this Research Topic and actively contributing to it.


Keywords: PTSD, university, students, psychological distress, mental health, trauma


Important Note: All contributions to this Research Topic must be within the scope of the section and journal to which they are submitted, as defined in their mission statements. Frontiers reserves the right to guide an out-of-scope manuscript to a more suitable section or journal at any stage of peer review.

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