Return to classes impact on mental health of university students during the COVID-19 pandemic

Acta Neuropsychiatr. 2022 Feb;34(1):24-29. doi: 10.1017/neu.2021.31. Epub 2021 Sep 15.


Background: The coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic and the necessary social isolation and distancing measures - that were adopted to prevent spreading the virus, including the suspension of university classes - negatively impacted the mental health of young adults. The aim of the current study was to investigate whether returning to online classes, even not presential, during the social isolation of the COVID-19 pandemic, affected the mental health of university students.

Methods: Forty students (10 men and 30 women) (age, 22.3 ± 3.8 years; body mass, 62.5 ± 17.8 kg; height, 165.6 ± 8.7 cm) from undergraduate health courses participated in the study. The students answered a self-administered questionnaire designed to gather personal and quarantine information as well as information about the frequency of depression (PHQ-9) and anxiety (GAD-7) symptoms. The questionnaire was answered before and after the return to online classes.

Results: There was a significantly lower frequency of depression symptoms after the return to online classes (Z = -2.27; p = 0.02). However, there was no difference in anxiety symptoms before and after returning to online classes (Z = -0.51; p = 0.61).

Conclusions: Return to online classes positively impacted the mental health (decrease of frequency of depression symptoms) of university students. Future studies are needed to observe whether the changes observed after returning to school are maintained over time.

Keywords: COVID-19; anxiety; depression; social isolation; students; universities.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Anxiety / epidemiology
  • COVID-19*
  • Depression / epidemiology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mental Health
  • Pandemics
  • SARS-CoV-2
  • Students
  • Universities
  • Young Adult