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Predictors of COVID-related changes in mental health in a South African sample of adolescents and young adults

Haag, Katharina; Du Toit, Stefani; Skeen, Sarah; Steventon Roberts, Kathryn; Chideya, Yeukai; Notholi, Vuyolwethu; Sambudla, Akhona; ... Tomlinson, Mark; + view all (2022) Predictors of COVID-related changes in mental health in a South African sample of adolescents and young adults. Psychology, Health & Medicine , 27 (sup1) pp. 239-255. 10.1080/13548506.2022.2108087. Green open access

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Abstract

The COVID-19 pandemic has substantially affected the lives of young people living in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA), leading to poorer short-term mental health outcomes. However, longitudinal data investigating changes in mental health from pre-COVID levels and their predictors are lacking. Our longitudinal sample comprised N = 233 young people (mean age: 17.8 years at baseline, 55.6% female) living in a deprived neighbourhood near Cape Town, South Africa. Symptoms of depression (PHQ-9), anxiety (GAD-7) and alcohol use (AUDIT) were assessed during two waves of data collection, pre-pandemic (2018/19) and via phone interviews in June to October 2020, during South Africa's first COVID wave and subsequent case decline. Latent change score models were used to investigate predictors of changes in mental health. Controlling for baseline levels, we found increases in depression and anxiety but not alcohol use symptoms during the COVID-19 pandemic. Higher baseline symptoms were associated with smaller increases on all measures. Socio-economic deprivation (lack of household income, food insecurity) before and during COVID were associated with higher anxiety and depression symptom increases. Having had more positive experiences during COVID was associated with lower post-COVID onset anxiety and depression increases, and marginally with less alcohol use, while negative experiences (household arguments, worries) were linked to stronger symptom increases. Overall, in a sample of young people from an adverse environment in South Africa, we found increased mental health difficulties during the COVID-19 pandemic, though higher baseline symptoms did not necessarily predict stronger increases. Several factors pre- and post-COVID onset were identified that could be relevant for determining risk and resilience. In the long term, it will be key to address these structural drivers of well-being and to ensure mental health needs of young people are being met to support SSA countries in building back successfully from COVID-19 and preparing for future shock events.

Type: Article
Title: Predictors of COVID-related changes in mental health in a South African sample of adolescents and young adults
Location: England
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1080/13548506.2022.2108087
Publisher version: https://doi.org/10.1080/13548506.2022.2108087
Language: English
Additional information: © 2022 The Author(s). Published by Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group. This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (http://creativecommons.org/ licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
Keywords: COVID, Mental health, alcohol use, anxiety, depression, longitudinal, young people
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Population Health Sciences > Institute for Global Health > Infection and Population Health
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Population Health Sciences > Institute for Global Health
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10153879
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