Analysis of Mental Health and Influencing Factors of Chinese University Students During the COVID-19 Pandemic: A Rapid Review

Luo, Wenjie
Mohammed, Jalal
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Master of Public Health
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Auckland University of Technology

Background: Since the outbreak of the coronavirus (COVID-19) in December 2019, people have been under unparalleled psychological stress all around the world. Activities such as work, education, and social interaction have been impacted. To prevent and control the pandemic, the Chinese Ministry of Education proposed online teaching activities for universities. For the first time, the learning of the entire curriculum shifted completely online, which had consequences for university students who are used to classroom learning.

Aim: The research has its purpose to address the data gap about the mental health and coping mechanisms of Chinese college students during the duration of COVID-19. It also influences the creation of policies and interventions that can enhance the mental health of college students and offers advice to those already working in the field.

Method: The literature search strategy employed the use the PICO model to determine the search terms. From the 349 articles found across the five databases, 25 met the inclusion criteria for analysis. Thematic analysis was used to identify six sub-themes, organized under two main themes: the impacts of COVID-19 on the mental health of Chinese university students and how they dealt with it.

Results: Mental health of Chinese university students during the duration of the epidemic was studied in the literature, as were their coping mechanisms. The psychiatric health issues included: (i) anxiety (ii) post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and acute stress disorder (ASD) (iii) suicidal ideation and depression. Meanwhile, a summary and analysis of the coping mechanisms used by Chinese college students were identified, including (i) social support (ii) family support (iii) negative and positive response.

Conclusion: Heightened stress, anxiety, and depression appeared in Chinese university students during the pandemic, which may have been compounded by their isolation and the disruptions to their studies. Even though COVID-19's effect on Chinese college students' studies is waning, this study emphasizes the potential long-lasting impact on their mental health, which requires further investigation, particularly regarding gender differences. Moreover, the primary methods of dealing with stress among college students were evaluated. The strategies of seeking social and family support and participating in sports activities had significant alleviating effects, while negative coping strategies did not. This rapid review could provide health policymakers, university psychologists, and relevant educators with greater in-depth knowledge and direction on how to deal with Chinese college students' mental health concerns.

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