Effects of the COVID-19 lockdown on mental health in a UK student sample

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Abstract

Background: The COVID-19 pandemic and the resulting restrictions placed upon society have had a profound impact on both physical and mental health, particularly for young people. Aims: The current study assesses the impact of COVID-19 on student mental health. Method: Four hundred and thirty four first year Undergraduate students completed a battery of self-report questionnaires (PHQ-P, GAD-7 and SAS-SV) to assess for depression, anxiety and mobile phone addiction respectively with data being collected over a 2 year period. The data from each year was compared (216 and 218 students respectively). Results: A MANOVA revealed that COVID-19 had a significant impact on self-reported levels of depression, anxiety and smartphone addiction—which all significantly increased from the 2020 to the 2021 group. The percentage of students who had a score which warranted a classification of clinical depression increased from 30 to 44%, and for anxiety increased from 22 to 27%—those students who showed a comorbidity across the two rose from 12 to 21%. Smartphone addiction levels rose from 39 to 50%. Correlational analysis showed a significant relationship between Smartphone usage and depression and anxiety. Conclusions: This research suggests that COVID-19 has had a major impact upon student mental health, and smartphone addiction. The importance of identifying predictive factors of depression and anxiety is emphasised, and suggestions for intervention are discussed.

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Catling, J. C., Bayley, A., Begum, Z., Wardzinski, C., & Wood, A. (2022). Effects of the COVID-19 lockdown on mental health in a UK student sample. BMC Psychology, 10(1). https://doi.org/10.1186/s40359-022-00732-9

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