Effects of the COVID-19 lockdown on mental health in a UK student sample

BMC Psychol. 2022 May 7;10(1):118. doi: 10.1186/s40359-022-00732-9.


Background: The COVID-19 pandemic and the resulting restrictions placed upon society have had a profound impact on both physical and mental health, particularly for young people.

Aims: The current study assesses the impact of COVID-19 on student mental health.

Method: Four hundred and thirty four first year Undergraduate students completed a battery of self-report questionnaires (PHQ-P, GAD-7 and SAS-SV) to assess for depression, anxiety and mobile phone addiction respectively with data being collected over a 2 year period. The data from each year was compared (216 and 218 students respectively).

Results: A MANOVA revealed that COVID-19 had a significant impact on self-reported levels of depression, anxiety and smartphone addiction-which all significantly increased from the 2020 to the 2021 group. The percentage of students who had a score which warranted a classification of clinical depression increased from 30 to 44%, and for anxiety increased from 22 to 27%-those students who showed a comorbidity across the two rose from 12 to 21%. Smartphone addiction levels rose from 39 to 50%. Correlational analysis showed a significant relationship between Smartphone usage and depression and anxiety.

Conclusions: This research suggests that COVID-19 has had a major impact upon student mental health, and smartphone addiction. The importance of identifying predictive factors of depression and anxiety is emphasised, and suggestions for intervention are discussed.

Keywords: Anxiety; COVID; Depression; Mental Health; Smartphone.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Anxiety / epidemiology
  • COVID-19* / epidemiology
  • Communicable Disease Control
  • Depression / epidemiology
  • Humans
  • Mental Health
  • Pandemics
  • Students / psychology
  • United Kingdom / epidemiology