Older students are at greater risk of depression, anxiety, and stress
A team of scholars from several Arab countries, headed by Dr. Omar Al Omari – College of Nursing – has carried out a TRC-funded study on the prevalence of depression, anxiety, and stress (DAS) among youth under COVID-19.
The aim of the study was:
To explore the prevalence of DAS among youth and to identify the associated predictors.
The project consisted of two stages:
A cross-sectional descriptive design was used to assess the relationship between depression, anxiety and stress during the pandemic.
The target population was young people aged between 15-24.
An online survey was distributed using social media platforms to recruit participants from different countries in the region.
A structured questionnaire was used to collect information about participants’ socio-demographics, including age, gender, educational level and type, and presence of family members, friends, or colleagues with COVID-19.
The previous history of depression, anxiety and medication for depressive syndrome was examined.
Frequency of watching news about COVID-19, and internet use was measured.
The Depression, Anxiety, and Stress Scale (DASS) was used because it is available in the public domain, the Arabic version has been validated, it is sensitive to youth, and it measures depression, anxiety, and stress in the same survey.
The findings suggest that:
COVID-19 has no significant impact on the selected DAS variables.
The prevalence of anxiety ranges from 33.1% in Saudi Arabia to 51.6% in Egypt, with a total prevalence of 40.5% in the six countries.
The prevalence of depression in the current study ranged from 47.9% in Saudi Arabia to 64.8% in Egypt, with a total prevalence of 57%.
The lockdown and moving to online learning have increased the use of the internet from an average of 5.46 hours a day before the pandemic, to 9.74 hours a day. Therefore, healthcare organisations in collaboration with ministries of telecommunications are strongly encouraged to design and provide specific psychological promotion programmes for youth during this pandemic with the aim of promoting their mental health.
Older students are at greater risk of DAS.
Youth with health and academic problems were found to have greater stress.
The study recommends the following:
There is a need to regularly screen youth and identify the newly evolved variables associated with DAS.
Parents need to let young people express their feelings and fears about the current situation. They also need to make an effort to increase family time to provide youths with a sense of security.
This study is the first of its kind to collect data from six different countries using a standardised method, and one of the few studies to investigate the prevalence of DAS during COVID-19.