The impacts of covid-19 outbreak on mental health in general population in different areas in China

Mao Sheng Ran (Corresponding Author), Ru Gao, Jing Xia Lin, Tian Ming Zhang, Sherry Kit Wa Chan, Xiao Peng Deng, Bing Zhi Zhang, Xin Feng Zhang, Guo Ping Huang, Dao Shen Pu, Jing Zhen Bai, Liu Xiu Xu, Bo Liu

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

11 Citations (Scopus)


Background This study aimed to explore the impacts of COVID-19 outbreak on mental health status in general population in different affected areas in China. Methods This was a comparative study including two groups of participants: (1) general population in an online survey in Ya'an and Jingzhou cities during the COVID-19 outbreak from 10-20 February 2020; and (2) matching general population selected from the mental health survey in Ya'an in 2019 (from January to May 2019). General Health Questionnaire (GHQ-12), Self-rating Anxiety Scale (SAS), and Self-rating Depression Scale (SDS) were used. Results There were 1775 participants (Ya'an in 2019 and 2020: 537 respectively; Jingzhou in 2020: 701). Participants in Ya'an had a significantly higher rate of general health problems (GHQ scores â3/43) in 2020 (14.7%) than in 2019 (5.2%) (p < 0.001). Compared with Ya'an (8.0%), participants in Jingzhou in 2020 had a significantly higher rate of anxiety (SAS scores â3/450, 24.1%) (p < 0.001). Participants in Ya'an in 2020 had a significantly higher rate of depression (SDS scores â3/453, 55.3%) than in Jingzhou (16.3%) (p < 0.001). The risk factors of anxiety symptoms included female, number of family members (â3/46 persons), and frequent outdoor activities. The risk factors of depression symptoms included participants in Ya'an and uptake self-protective measures. Conclusions The prevalence of psychological symptoms has increased sharply in general population during the COVID-19 outbreak. People in COVID-19 severely affected areas may have higher scores of GHQ and anxiety symptoms. Culture-specific and individual-based psychosocial interventions should be developed for those in need during the COVID-19 outbreak.

Original languageEnglish
JournalPsychological Medicine
Publication statusPublished - 10 Dec 2020


  • China
  • COVID-19
  • general population
  • mental health
  • outbreak

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Applied Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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