Title: University Students’ Mental Health Amidst the COVID-19 Quarantine in Greece
Authors: Chrysi K. Kaparounaki, Mikaella E. Patsali, Danai-Priskila V. Mousa, Eleni V.K. Papadopoulou, Konstantina K.K. Papadopoulou, Konstantinos N. Fountoulakis
- During the COVID-19 pandemic, students’ mental wellness decreased across the board, with a 42.5% increase in anxiety symptoms, 74.3% in depression symptoms, and a 63.3% increase in total suicidal thoughts
- Although the quantity of sleep increased for 66.3% of students, quality of sleep decreased by 43.0%, which also can exacerbate existing or nascent mental health concerns
The COVID-19 hit also Greece but due to early measures and their exceptional success, the death toll is one of the lowest in the world. Here we report the results from the analysis of the responses to an online survey, from the first 1000 university students, concerning the impact of the lockdown on their mental health. Overall, there was a ‘horizontal’ increase in scores; 42.5% for anxiety, 74.3% for depression, and 63.3% increase in total suicidal thoughts. Quantity of sleep increased in 66.3% but quality worsened in 43.0%. Quality of life worsened in 57.0% (same in 27.9%). There was a 25-3 fold increase in possible clinical cases of depression and an almost 8-fold increase in suicidal thoughts. Almost a third accept and one fifth are open to conspiracy theories concerning COVID-19. To our knowledge this is the first study reporting data concerning the impact of lockdown and quarantine on the mental health of university students. While the acute impact seems clear, the long-term consequences are unknown and although suicidal thoughts have risen substantially, it seems unlikely this will result in deaths. However, the results constitute a clear message that vulnerable populations are at a need for specific interventions concerning their mental health issues.
What would this look like in a course?
- Recognize that students may be experiencing a higher degree of mental distress and/or lower sleep quality than the level to which they are accustomed.
- Mindfulness of increased levels of mental distress or decreased levels of sleep quality can take any (or all) of the following forms:
- Acknowledging in class the potential disruptions or difficulties of learning under these circumstances (coupled with the expression of support)
- Receptivity to students’ requests for accommodations (within reason)
- Familiarity with Stanford mental health resources to which you can connect students in distress, especially Counseling and Psychological Services (650-723-3785).
Kaparounaki, C. K., Patsali, M. E., Mousa, D. V., Papadopoulou, E. V., Papadopoulou, K. K., & Fountoulakis, K. N. (2020). University students’ mental health amidst the COVID-19 quarantine in Greece. Psychiatry Research, 290, 113111. doi:10.1016/j.psychres.2020.113111