A recent comprehensive study published in Psychreg Journal of Psychology delved into the the mental health impact of Covid. With a detailed examination of both quantitative and qualitative research data, the study shed light on the significant psychological distress induced by the pandemic, and identified potential coping strategies.
The Covid pandemic has ushered in an unprecedented era of challenges, transforming daily lives and causing global alarm. Its impact on mental health has been profound and wide-ranging, with anxiety and depression being the most commonly reported psychological disturbances.
The study organised its findings around three central themes: the internal and external influences on Covid behaviour, the impact of Covid on health and well-being, and coping strategies.
Josephine NwaAmaka Bardi, PhD, the associate dean for education and student experience at London Southbank University, shared her personal journey and drive in the field of mental health. She said: “I am a passionate student engagement expert with more than 10 years of experience, successfully implementing strategies to enable a positive student experience through mentoring, coaching, and collaborating with students to succeed, regardless of where I meet them in their academic and career journeys.”
Bardi, who is the principal investigator for all RAMHHE (Raise Awareness of Mental Health in Higher Education) research activity, went on to describe her role as a change maker in the educational sphere, stating: “I am a catalyst for change leading the social movement for the inclusion of the student’s voice in the development, implementation, and evaluation of learning and teaching strategies, and mental health interventions. My motivation behind student engagement work is to positively improve the student experience by collaborating with them to have significant long-term academic, societal, and global impact.
“In 2015, I founded the campaign to RAMHHE, a responsive and dynamic novel student engagement strategy for wider participation. Future research plans are already at different stages of the research process, and as is the ethos of the RAMHHE Intercountry Research Group, I am collaborating with more than 25 students and research leads within and outside the UK. Most recently, I hosted 12 students on research placement and this culminated in conducting the first pilot study, using my model (an evidence-based model that I hope more universities will implement) to explore the meaning and understanding of mental health among university students.”
Bardi further added: “My hope is that findings from the current article on the profound effects of Covid will contribute to the international literature to develop proactive, rather than reactive interventions for mental health.”
Continuing to discuss her contributions to mental health in academia, she added: “Mental health measures varied across the studies, but a consistent pattern emerged: the pandemic has caused significant psychological distress. Anxiety was the most frequently reported issue, measured in a multitude of ways from specific tests for anxiety to more generalised scales for mental health. Depression was another significant concern, although the methods for its measurement varied across the studies.
Fear of Covid also emerged as a powerful mediator of psychological well-being, with a strong correlation observed between fear and mental health conditions such as anxiety and depression. Despite the various measurement methods employed, the researchers noted that the impact of the pandemic on these mental health aspects was significant, regardless of the specific tool used.
However, it was not all doom and gloom. The study also examined coping strategies employed by individuals and found certain resilient behaviours that helped mitigate the impact of Covid on mental health. Some general coping approaches included internal and external strategies like active coping, seeking emotional support, and denial. Interestingly, coping styles were associated with 86.2% of the variance in experienced Covid distress, suggesting the crucial role they play in managing the pandemic’s impact.
An important aspect was the role of social support and resilience. A higher sense of community and social support during and after lockdown was reported, and resilience levels were found to correlate positively with age. This finding suggests that young people might be more susceptible to psychological distress, emphasizing the need for targeted mental health resources for this demographic.
The study also noted that knowledge and awareness about Covid were high among most participants across various studies. This mindset was believed to have facilitated adoption of safety behaviours, potentially contributing to a decrease in anxiety levels.
The study’s findings underscore the vital role mental health plays in our overall well-being, particularly during challenging times such as the current pandemic. They also stress the importance of implementing effective coping strategies and fostering resilience.
As we continue to grapple with the ongoing pandemic and its emerging variants, this study serves as a crucial guide to understanding and responding to the mental health challenges posed by Covid. By highlighting the significance of coping mechanisms and the necessity for targeted mental health resources, the study paves the way for better mental health care during this global crisis.