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Facing the COVID-19 pandemic – an assessment of students’ mental health and major coping strategies during the COVID-19 pandemic – an international study

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  19 July 2023

A. A. Forma*
Affiliation:
1Chair and I Department of Psychiatry, Psychotherapy, and Early Intervention
K. H. Karakuła
Affiliation:
1Chair and I Department of Psychiatry, Psychotherapy, and Early Intervention
R. Sitarz
Affiliation:
1Chair and I Department of Psychiatry, Psychotherapy, and Early Intervention
D. Juchnowicz
Affiliation:
2Department of Psychiatric Nursing
J. Baj
Affiliation:
3Chair and Department of Anatomy
J. Bogucki
Affiliation:
4Chair and Department of Organic Chemistry, Faculty of Pharmacy
J. Rog
Affiliation:
5Chair and I Department of Psychiatry, Psychotherapy, and Early Intervention, Medical University of Lublin, Lublin, Poland
M. L. Tee
Affiliation:
6College of Medicine, University of Philippines Manila, Manila, Philippines
C. A. Tee
Affiliation:
6College of Medicine, University of Philippines Manila, Manila, Philippines
J. T. Ly-Uson
Affiliation:
6College of Medicine, University of Philippines Manila, Manila, Philippines
M. S. Islam
Affiliation:
7Department of Public Health and Informatics, Jahangirnagar University, Dhaka, Bangladesh
M. T. Sikder
Affiliation:
7Department of Public Health and Informatics, Jahangirnagar University, Dhaka, Bangladesh
A. H. El-Monshed
Affiliation:
8Department of Psychiatric and Mental Health Nursing, Faculty of Nursing, Mansoura University, Mansoura
A. Loutfy
Affiliation:
9Department of Pediatric Nursing, Faculty of Nursing, Beni-Suef University, Beni-Suef, Egypt
M. F. H. Qureshi
Affiliation:
10Ziauddin Medical University, Ziauddin Medical University, Ziauddin
M. Abbas
Affiliation:
11Karachi Medical and Dental College, Karachi, Pakistan
S. Taseen
Affiliation:
11Karachi Medical and Dental College, Karachi, Pakistan
M. Lakhani
Affiliation:
10Ziauddin Medical University, Ziauddin Medical University, Ziauddin
C. Wang
Affiliation:
12Faculty of Education, Huaibei Normal University, Huaibei
X. Wan
Affiliation:
12Faculty of Education, Huaibei Normal University, Huaibei
Y. Tan
Affiliation:
12Faculty of Education, Huaibei Normal University, Huaibei
R. Pan
Affiliation:
13Anqing Normal University, Anqing Normal University, Anqing, China
R. Ho
Affiliation:
14Department of Psychological Medicine, National University of Singapore, Singapore
S. Jayakumar
Affiliation:
15Department of Basic Medical Sciences, Al Majmaah University, Majmaah, Saudi Arabia
S. Ilango
Affiliation:
16Madga Medical College and Research Insitute, Chennai, India
S. Kumar K
Affiliation:
16Madga Medical College and Research Insitute, Chennai, India
Á. A. Ruiz-Chow
Affiliation:
17Centro Médico ABC, Centro Médico ABC, Mexico City, Mexico
A. Iturbide
Affiliation:
17Centro Médico ABC, Centro Médico ABC, Mexico City, Mexico
D. D. González-Mille
Affiliation:
17Centro Médico ABC, Centro Médico ABC, Mexico City, Mexico
L. P. Doan
Affiliation:
18Duy Tan University, Da Nang, Viet Nam
H. Karakuła-Juchnowicz
Affiliation:
5Chair and I Department of Psychiatry, Psychotherapy, and Early Intervention, Medical University of Lublin, Lublin, Poland
*
*Corresponding author.

Abstract

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Introduction

TDuring COVID-19 pandemic, it was noticed that it was students who were mostly affected by the changes that aroused because of the pandemic. The interesting part is whether students’ well-being could be associated with their fields of study as well as coping strategies.

Objectives

In this study, we aimed to assess 1) the mental health of students from nine countries with a particular focus on depression, anxiety, and stress levels and their fields of study, 2) the major coping strategies of students after one year of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Methods

We conducted an anonymous online cross-sectional survey on 12th April – 1st June 2021 that was distributed among the students from Poland, Mexico, Egypt, India, Pakistan, China, Vietnam, Philippines, and Bangladesh. To measure the emotional distress, we used the Depression, Anxiety, and Stress Scale-21 (DASS-21), and to identify the major coping strategies of students - the Brief-COPE.

Results

We gathered 7219 responses from students studying five major studies: medical studies (N=2821), social sciences (N=1471), technical sciences (N=891), artistic/humanistic studies (N=1094), sciences (N=942). The greatest intensity of depression (M=18.29±13.83; moderate intensity), anxiety (M=13.13±11.37; moderate intensity ), and stress (M=17.86±12.94; mild intensity) was observed among sciences students. Medical students presented the lowest intensity of all three components - depression (M=13.31±12.45; mild intensity), anxiety (M=10.37±10.57; moderate intensity), and stress (M=13.65±11.94; mild intensity). Students of all fields primarily used acceptance and self-distraction as their coping mechanisms, while the least commonly used were self-blame, denial, and substance use. The group of coping mechanisms the most frequently used was ‘emotional focus’. Medical students statistically less often used avoidant coping strategies compared to other fields of study. Substance use was only one coping mechanism that did not statistically differ between students of different fields of study. Behavioral disengagement presented the highest correlation with depression (r=0.54), anxiety (r=0.48), and stress (r=0.47) while religion presented the lowest positive correlation with depression (r=0.07), anxiety (r=0.14), and stress (r=0.11).

Conclusions

1) The greatest intensity of depression, anxiety, and stress was observed among sciences students, while the lowest intensity of those components was found among students studying medicine.

2) Not using avoidant coping strategies might be associated with lower intensity of all DASS components among students.

3) Behavioral disengagement might be strongly associated with greater intensity of depression, anxiety, and stress among students.

4) There was no coping mechanism that provided the alleviation of emotional distress in all the fields of studies of students.

Disclosure of Interest

None Declared

Type
Abstract
Creative Commons
Creative Common License - CCCreative Common License - BY
This is an Open Access article, distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution licence (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted re-use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
Copyright
© The Author(s), 2023. Published by Cambridge University Press on behalf of the European Psychiatric Association
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