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Int J Environ Res Public Health ; 18(15)2021 Jul 25.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1325668


BACKGROUND: The COVID-19 pandemic is a global health crisis associated with unprecedented levels of morbidity and mortality worldwide. The COVID-19 pandemic has been suggested to contribute to a great burden on global mental health. We assumed that individuals in quarantine outside their home country would be more vulnerable to developing mental health disorders during the current pandemic and might face difficulties in accessing mental health services. AIM: To explore the degree of association between the COVID-19 pandemic and mental health status of Saudi citizens living abroad. OBJECTIVES: (1) To measure the prevalence and risk factors of mental health problems among Saudi citizens studying and living abroad during the COVID-19 pandemic; (2) to assess the correlation between the COVID-19 pandemic and mental health status of Saudi citizens living abroad; and (3) to explore the level of anxiety/depression during the COVID-19 pandemic. METHODS: A cross-sectional survey was conducted from August 2020 to September 2020 using a self-administrated questionnaire composed of sociodemographic, (GAD-7) and (PHQ-9) scales. RESULTS: A total of 64% of participants experienced psychiatric symptoms during the pandemic, and 34% and 30% met the diagnostic criteria for symptoms of depression and anxiety, respectively. The risk of psychological symptoms was more likely experienced by females, young, single, or divorced, or those who were living alone. In addition, those who lived in the UK and Ireland were more likely to develop depressive and anxiety symptoms. More than 80% appreciated the response of the Saudi government and embassy to meet the MH needs of students undergoing quarantine abroad and in Saudi Arabia. CONCLUSIONS: The COVID-19 pandemic represents an unprecedented threat to global mental health. Two-thirds of study participants who were in foreign countries during the COVID-19 pandemic reported anxiety or depressive symptoms. Living away from family and friends was significantly associated with increased loneliness and psychological distress. These and other findings highlight the need to remove barriers preventing easily accessible online mental health services, social and family support, and timely provision of resources.

COVID-19 , Pandemics , Anxiety/epidemiology , Cross-Sectional Studies , Depression/epidemiology , Female , Health Status , Humans , SARS-CoV-2 , Saudi Arabia/epidemiology