Elizabeth O. Akin-Odanye, Ernest Kaninjing, Roland N. Ndip, Carol L. Warren, Chioma C. Asuzu, Ivette Lopez, Charles Muiruri, Helene Vilme


Students at higher institutions of learning are more susceptible to psychosocial problems compared to the general public. These may further be exacerbated by the measures put in place to curb the spread of COVID-19. This mixed methods study examined the factors associated with the psychosocial impact of COVID-19 on students’ financial stability, interpersonal relationships and worries related to achieving academic milestones. Data comprised of a series of closed and open-ended questions collected via Qualtrics from students in the United States and Africa (Central and West). The quantitative data were analyzed using frequency counts, percentages and chi-square, while the qualitative data was analyzed using thematic content analysis. More than 90% of the students resided in the United States, 72.5% were females and 78.4% were undergraduates. Financial hardship was experienced by 26.4% of the students, 55.8% indicated that COVID-19 negatively affected their relationship with friends and over 40% worried over delays in achieving academic milestones. Continent of residence, employment status and financial hardship were significantly associated with the negative impact of COVID-19 on one or more of the students’ relationships and with worries about achieving academic milestones. Qualitative data support the findings that financial hardship contributed to experience of psychological distress by students. It also revealed negative (compromised relationships – broken or fractured relationships and loneliness) and positive (bonding) impact of COVID-19 on interpersonal relationships. School administrators should provide students with resources to access economic relief packages and tele-counseling services to help meet their financial and psychosocial support needs amidst COVID-19.


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COVID-19 pandemic, mental health, psychological distress, isolation, psychosocial care, institutions of higher learning

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