The Effects of COVID-19 on Wuhan College Students

Wuhan college students have drawn on positive thinking and resilience.

Posted Aug 12, 2020

Chia-Ching Tu, used with permission
Source: Chia-Ching Tu, used with permission
Dong Yang, used with permission
Source: Dong Yang, used with permission

Because Wuhan was one of the earliest sites of COVID-19 outbreak, much research has been done on the local population. In a recent study, college students in Wuhan were analyzed for resilience factors that helped them stay strong during the pandemic.

Dr. Chia-Ching Tu is a teacher in the Department of Education Management at Dhurakij Pundit University (DPU, Thailand). She embraces an innovative spirit in curriculum theory and practice, creativity cultivation, innovation management, and human resource management. Dong Yang is an Ed.D. student at the Suryadhep Teachers College of Rangsit University in Thailand.

Jamie Aten: How did you first get interested in this topic?

Chia-Ching Tu & Dong Yang: During the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic in China, we found that newsfeeds related to COVID-19 may result in anxiety or distress for people. Some patients sought help on the Internet, some posted negative self-reports of COVID-19 on Weibo. We found college students were one of the groups who were greatly sensitive to the COVID-19 pandemic. Some college students reported what they knew, what the situation was in Wuhan, and what they did to prevent the COVID-19 pandemic. What impressed us most was that college students successfully urged the older groups to use masks and keep social distance in Wuhan. Thus, we decided to design a helpful study to analyze this group and provide valuable protective suggestions for their mental health.      

JA: What was the focus of your study?

CCT & DY: We found the COVID-19 pandemic certainly resulted in a negative effect on Wuhan’s college students. A question was proposed by our research group: Is there any positive protective factor of COVID-19 to balance the negative experience for Wuhan’s college students? In our subsequent research work, we found in previous literature that positive thinking about disaster events and resilience to stress may be beneficial protective psychological factors for students. We have surveyed approximately 400 college students by questionnaires who lived in Wuhan and started to analyze the data about college students, exploring the psychological effects of positive thinking and resilience on Wuhan's college students.

JA: What did you discover in your study?

CCT & DY: We successfully found a protective effect that comes from certain thinking models and self-traits. Some students who could positively perceive the COVID-19 pandemic were less influenced by the overall experience. Similarly, we found some students who reported a higher level of resilience that were less impacted by the pandemic as well. Actually, the protective effects were created by positive thinking about COVID-19 and resilience to stress. Therefore, based on this view, we discussed how to mitigate the impact of the pandemic on college students in Wuhan.

JA: Is there anything that surprised you in your findings, or that you weren't fully expecting?

CCT & DY: In our assumption, most of Wuhan’s college students may not think positively about COVID-19. Furthermore, they may not have enough resilience to this event. To our surprise, the pandemic did not make them lose their positive thinking or resilience. In effect, it may explain that COVID-19 was not enough to harm Wuhan’s college students. They had an optimistic view of the COVID-19 pandemic, so their resilience was enough to resist the risk of negative COVID-19 mental health effects. 

JA: How might readers apply what you found to their lives during COVID-19?

CCT & DY: Because our research focused on college students, the research results may suit this group only. For readers who are college students or young adults, we suggest you engage the global COVID-19 epidemic data and epidemic prevention policies, try to identify the most ideal prevention practices, and implement them yourself and with your family and friends. Moreover, we suggest that people should maintain social contact with anyone who can provide support so that you can seek available help when you fall into negative thinking.

JA: How can readers use what you found to help others amidst this pandemic?

CCT & DY: We suggest readers care for and listen to others during the COVID-19 pandemic. Particularly, your friends, family, and important people who fall into negative mental health patterns (such as stress, depression, anxiety, etc.) should be your primary objects of help. Similarly, educational workers must enhance positive thinking and resilience among students as soon as possible. These two strong factors will help resist the negative influences of COVID-19 or other victimization experiences on mental health.

JA: What are you currently working on that you might like to share about?

CCT & DY: We may consider focusing our research on the influence of the pandemic on people in Wuhuan post-COVID-19 because we found some people who lived in Wuhan reported they still dreamed about bad things related to COVID-19, even after the pandemic was gone in Wuhan.


Yang, D., Tu, C.-C., & Dai, X. (2020). The effect of the 2019 novel coronavirus pandemic on college students in Wuhan. Psychological Trauma: Theory, Research, Practice, and Policy, 12(S1), S6-S14.