Int J Soc Psychiatry. 2022 Jun 3:207640221099420. doi: 10.1177/00207640221099420. Online ahead of print.
AIMS: We aimed to identify the prevalence of anxiety, depression, and suicidality and identify relevant risk and protecting factors among university students during the COVID-19 pandemic in Georgia.
MATERIALS AND METHODS: We conducted an anonymous online survey (n = 984, convenience sample by approaching all universities in Georgia and some student organizations) using valid instruments (e.g., STAI to assess anxiety, CES-D for depression, and RASS to assess suicidality). We calculated frequencies and prevalence and applied regression analysis and Chi-square tests to identify risk and protecting factors.
FINDINGS: Respondents’ mental health had been significantly affected (with a high prevalence of depression (46.7%) and anxiety (79%)) during the pandemic (which coincided with political turmoil and caused an economic crisis) in Georgia. Some of the critical factors affecting mental health were: female sex (p = .000), bad general health condition (anxiety p = .001, depression p = .004), finances (anxiety and depression p < .001), reduced physical activity (anxiety p < .001, depression p = .014), and a history of self-harming (suicidality p < .001). Less family conflicts (anxiety and depression p < .05), absence of nightmares (anxiety and depression p < .001), moderate or low fears of COVID-19 (anxiety p < .001), and lower substance use (anxiety p = .023) were among the potentially protective factors. International students coped better, despite vulnerability. Medical students had a lower risk of depression.
CONCLUSIONS: In the complex socioeconomic context, mental health of students in Georgia suffered a lot during the COVID-19 pandemic, requiring thorough planning and delivery of student support services in higher educational institutions during and after the pandemic.