Mental Health during the COVID-19 Crisis in Africa: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis.

Publication Type:
Journal Article
Int J Environ Res Public Health, 2021, 18, (20), pp. 10604
Issue Date:
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We aim to provide a systematic review and meta-analysis of the prevalence rates of mental health symptoms among major African populations during the COVID-19 pandemic. We include articles from PubMed, Embase, Web of Science, PsycINFO, and medRxiv between 1 February 2020 and 6 February 2021, and pooled data using random-effects meta-analyses. We identify 28 studies and 32 independent samples from 12 African countries with a total of 15,071 participants. The pooled prevalence of anxiety was 37% in 27 studies, of depression was 45% in 24 studies, and of insomnia was 28% in 9 studies. The pooled prevalence rates of anxiety, depression, and insomnia in North Africa (44%, 55%, and 31%, respectively) are higher than those in Sub-Saharan Africa (31%, 30%, and 24%, respectively). We find (a) a scarcity of studies in several African countries with a high number of COVID-19 cases; (b) high heterogeneity among the studies; (c) the extent and pattern of prevalence of mental health symptoms in Africa is high and differs from elsewhere-more African adults suffer from depression rather than anxiety and insomnia during COVID 19 compared to adult populations in other countries/regions. Hence, our findings carry crucial implications and impact future research to enable evidence-based medicine in Africa.
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