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Higher risk of mental health deterioration during the Covid-19 lockdown among students rather than non-students. The French Confins study

By Julie Arsandaux, Ilaria Montagni, Mélissa Macalli, Nathalie Texier, Mathilde Pouriel, Raphaël Germain, Adel Mebarki, Shérazade Kinouani, Marie Tournier, Stéphane Schück, Christophe Tzourio

Posted 05 Nov 2020
medRxiv DOI: 10.1101/2020.11.04.20225706

BackgroundCovid-19 pandemic and its consequences have raised fears of its psychological impact. The objective of this study was to estimate the effect of student status on mental health conditions during Covid-19 general lockdown among adults in France. MethodsUsing cross-sectional data of the Confins cohort, we estimated the effect of student status on depressive and anxiety symptoms, suicidal thoughts and perceived stress using multivariate logistic regression analyses. Stratified models for college students and non- students were performed to identify associated population-specific factors. ResultsAmong the 2260 included participants, students represented 59% (n=1335 vs 925 non- students) and 78% of the total sample were female. Student status was more frequently associated with depressive symptoms (adjusted OR(aOR)=1.58; 95%CI 1.17;2.14), anxiety symptoms (aOR=1.51; 95%CI 1.10;2.07), perceived stress (n=1919, aOR=1.70, 95%CI 1.26;2.29) and frequent suicidal thoughts (n=1919, aOR=1.57, 95%CI 0.97;2.53). Lockdown conditions that could be potentially aggravating on mental health like isolation had a higher impact on students than non-students. LimitationsParticipants were volunteers, which could limit generalisation of the findings. The cross-sectional design did not allow determining if lockdown impacted directly mental health or if there is another cause. However, we adjusted analyses with the history of psychiatric disorders, and factors related to lockdown conditions were associated with mental health disturbances. ConclusionsCollege students mental health is of great importance in the context of the general lockdown set up during the pandemic. Follow-up and interventions should be implemented especially for those at high-risk (younger people and those with history of psychiatric disorders).

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