Prevalence and factors associated with mental and emotional health outcomes among africans during the COVID-19 lockdown period—A web-based cross-sectional study
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Mental health and emotional responses to the effects of COVID-19 lockdown in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) are of serious public health concern and may negatively affect the mental health status of people. Hence, this study assessed the prevalence of mental health symptoms as well as emotional reactions among sub-Saharan Africans (SSAs) and associated factors among SSAs during the COVID19 lockdown period. This was a web-based cross-sectional study on mental health and emotional features from 2005 respondents in seven SSA countries. This study was conducted between 17 April and 17 May 2020 corresponding to the lockdown period in most SSA countries. Respondents aged 18 years and above and the self-reported symptoms were feeling anxious, being worried, angry, bored and frustrated. These were the main outcomes and were treated as dichotomous variables. Univariate and multivariate logistic regression analyses were used to identify the factors associated with these symptoms. We found that over half (52.2%) of the participants reported any of the mental health symptoms and the prevalence of feeling bored was 70.5% followed by feeling anxious (59.1%), being worried (57.5%), frustrated (51.5%) and angry (22.3%) during the COVID-19 pandemic. Multivariate analysis revealed that males, those aged >28 years, those who lived in Central and Southern Africa, those who were not married, the unemployed, those living with more than six persons in a household, had higher odds of mental health and emotional symptoms. Similarly, people who perceived low risk of contracting the infection, and those who thought the pandemic would not continue after the lockdown had higher odds of mental health and emotional symptoms. Health care workers had lower odds for feeling angry than non-healthcare workers. During the COVID-19 lockdown periods in SSA, about one in two participants reported mental health and emotional symptoms. Public health measures can be effectively used to identify target groups for prevention and treatment of mental health and emotional symptoms. Such interventions should be an integral component of SSA governments’ response and recovery strategies of any future pandemic.
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