Costs and Benefits of Undergraduates Revealing Depression to Online Science Instructors

Carly A. Busch, Tasneem F. Mohammed, Erika M. Nadile, Madison L. Witt, Cindy Vargas, Missy Tran, Joseph Gazing Wolf, Danielle Brister, Katelyn M. Cooper

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Depression is one of the leading mental health concerns among science undergraduates, and rates of student depression increased during the COVID-19 pandemic. Revealing one's depression in an academic science environment can be helpful, because it can result in increased support from others. However, depression is considered a concealable stigmatized identity, meaning that it can be kept hidden and may carry a stigma. A national piv-ot to online learning owing to COVID-19 not only increased the need to bolster student mental health, but also presented a novel learning environment. However, it is unclear to what extent students revealed their depression in science courses and why. We surveyed 1179 undergraduates with depression at a research-intensive institution about whether they had revealed their depression to an online college science instructor. Very few undergraduates (5.9%) had revealed their depression to online science instructors; students who identify as LGBTQ+, have lower grade point averages, or experience more severe depression were more likely to reveal their depression to an instructor. Undergraduates reported potential benefits from doing so, including building a connection with the instructor and receiving accommodations. This work provides insight into steps science instructors can take to foster inclusive course environments for students with depression.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numberar9
JournalCBE life sciences education
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2023
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)


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