Mental health of students of biomedical sciences during the COVID-19 pandemic: a scoping review
Introduction. The coronavirus pandemic led to the closure of schools and colleges in March 2020. Medical and other schools shifted to online teaching-learning and assessment. Several factors have led to mental health problems among biomedical students.
Objectives. This scoping review seeks to identify stressors, delineate subgroups of students who may be at greater risk of mental health problems, and examine possible recommendations by the respondents and the authors to reduce stress levels and support students.
Methods: Eligibility criteria: Studies published in English about the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on the mental health of health science students till 15th January 2021 were included.
Sources of evidence. Research articles and other publications obtained using the databases PubMed, Scopus, and Google Scholar. Charting methods: The criteria studied were the type of paper and study, the country, the institution, the mental health parameters studied, types and numbers of students/respondents involved, the main message, strengths and weaknesses and the main recommendation of the study.
Results. Thirty articles were included. Stressors were divided into health, workplace, academic, general, and financial apprehensions. Respondents at greater risk were females, below 20 years of age, and those with family/friends infected. Among the authors’ recommendations to reduce stress were implementing effective plans to safeguard students’ health, especially of those who were parents or interns, engaging in physical activities, workshops for faculty members in online teaching-learning, financial support, online counselling, reducing misinformation, further studies at later stages of the pandemic, and including topics related to the pandemic and pandemic preparedness in the curriculum.
Conclusions. Different types of apprehensions were responsible for stress and mental distress. Females, younger students, students with family and friends who were infected were at greater risk of problems. Recommendations were provided by the authors. Studies from countries which were not represented, and longitudinal studies may be required.