This study examined factors of mental distress among the younger population (aged 16-25) in order to further contribute to the research regarding mental health and COVID-19. Specifically, the article assessed the impact of lockdown-related changes in various life domains which are relevant for youth, such as changes in social media use, time spent at home and the frequency of several social and leisure activities. This cross-sectional study took place at the beginning phase of the pandemic. Data were collected via surveys. After filtering data to include only the specified age group, there were 2,008 respondents included in the study. Mental health distress was assessed using the 12-Item General Health Questionnaire. Predictor variables included age, gender, student status, and living alone or not. Social support, loneliness, use of social media, and change in everyday life was also measured using associated assessments. The results indicated that the majority (65.5%) experienced mental distress. Results of the multivariate regression model showed that significant predictors of mental distress were being female (OR=1.8), low social support (OR=2.2), and loneliness (OR=5.2), Other factors such as social media use and doing home activities were also associated with mental distress.
Further, this study specifically assessed the associations of age, gender, and their interaction with loneliness during the pandemic. This cross-sectional study included 3,012 adults aged 18+. Associations of loneliness with age and gender were found using multivariable logistic regression analysis. Other sociodemographic variables such as marital status, education, and income were controlled in the study. The results showed that females were more likely to experience loneliness compared to men (AOR=1.76; 95%CI=1.32, 2.34) and among all age groups younger than 60 compared to those who were 60 and over (p=0.002).
The following study focused specifically on college students and their mental health during the pandemic. The authors assessed levels of anxiety, depression and stress in college students living Brazil. The sample consisted of 208 students. Regarding prevalence of symptoms classified as moderate-severe, 49% indicated stress, 39% indicated depression, and 33% indicated anxiety. Specifically the association found were: higher levels of anxiety symptoms (OR = 5.652; 95% CI = 2.872–11.123; p < 0.001), depression (OR = 3.289; 95% CI = 1.810–5.978; p < 0.001) and stress (OR = 5.684; 95% CI = 3.120–10.355; p < 0.001). The protective factor regular physical exercise in relation to depressive symptoms (OR = 0.490; 95% CI = 0.250–0.960; p =0.033).
Research has shown that people react to behavioral changes differently. For example, older people react differently than younger people as do males compared to females.
Given this, it is beneficial to understand specifically the factors that motivate people to adopt behavioral changes that help to minimize risk of COVID-19. This study used data from the Understanding America Study to assess how various cognitive mediators affected behavioral changes in younger and older adults (18-34; 65+ respectively).
Younger adults’ perceptions of the effectiveness of protective measures and ability to adopt them played a key role in performing the behaviors. They also relied more on availability of coping resources. For older adults, perception of severity was an important factor in adopting behavioral changes. Specifically, they used information from media and assessed severity in the state where they resided when adopting behavioral changes.