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Description: This study investigates change in students’ social networks and mental health at the time of the COVID-19 crisis in April 2020. We surveyed multiple dimensions of social networks (pleasant interaction, friendship, social support, co-studying) and mental health indicators (depression, anxiety, stress, loneliness) before and during the crisis among Swiss undergraduate students (N=212). We find that interaction and co-studying networks had become sparser, and more students were studying alone. Furthermore, students’ levels of stress, anxiety, loneliness, and depressive symptoms got worse. Stressors shifted from fears of missing out on social life to worries about health, family, friends, and their future. Exploratory analyses suggest that COVID-19 specific worries, isolation in social networks, lack of interaction and emotional support, and physical isolation were associated with negative mental health trajectories. The results offer starting points to identify and support students at higher risk of social isolation and negative psychological effects during the COVID-19 pandemic.

License: CC-By Attribution 4.0 International

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Type: COVID-19
Status: Completed


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