Mental Health during COVID-19 Pandemic: Does Social Support Count? A Cross-Sectional Survey among Lira University Students, Northern Uganda

Maxson Kenneth Anyolitho1*, Amir Kabunga2, Lucas Goodgame Anyayo2 & Rebecca Nakaziba3

1Department of Public Health, Lira University, Uganda
2Department of Psychiatry, Lira University, Uganda
3Department of Nursing and Midwifery, Lira University, Uganda

Mr. Maxson Kenneth Anyolitho, Department of Public Health, Lira University, Uganda.

Keywords: COVID-19; Lockdown; Mental Health; Social Support; University Students; Uganda


COVID-19 pandemic that began in Wuhan, in India towards the end of 2019 has the world catastrophe of the 21st-century. As a result, all sectors of the world’s economies have been seriously disrupted. In the education sector, academic programs were interrupted differently depending on their stages of implementation. For the case of tertiary and university institutions, however, most of them were about to begin examinations but which had to be put on halt as students were sent home. These disruptions including the closure of educational institutions could have serious mental health impacts on the individuals. We conducted a cross-sectional study to assess the mental health status and its association with social support during the COVID-19 lockdown among undergraduate students of Lira University. We used a non-probability convenience sampling technique to identify the students. We developed an online survey questionnaire using google form and sent to the students’ email and social media contacts. Responses were submitted directly to a google central server in an excel form and later exported to SPSS V.25 for analysis. Data were analyzed in descriptive to show frequency distributions, mean and graphs inferentially using the chi-square test to establish possible relationships. More than half of the respondents 57% were females, 34.63% were in the age group 21-22 years old and the majority were in the third year (33.97%) and firstyear (30.13%) respectively. The majority of students were in good mental health and had positive social support. The findings also revealed a significant statistical association between social support provided to the students and their mental health status. Based on the results, social support should be provided to students when they are at home during the pandemics such as the COVID-19 to ensure their mental health stability.

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