Reflections, Resilience, and Recovery: A qualitative study of COVID-19's impact on an international adult population’s mental health and priorities for support
The impact of the coronavirus 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic on different countries and populations is well documented in quantitative studies, with some studies showing stable mental health symptoms and others showing fluctuating symptoms. However, the reasons behind why some symptoms are stable and others change are under-explored, which in turn makes identifying the types of support needed by participants themselves challenging. To address these gaps, this study thematically analysed 925 qualitative responses from five open-ended responses collected in the UCL-Penn Global COVID Study between 17 April to 31 July 2021 (wave 3). Three key themes comprised of 13 codes were reported by participants across countries and ages regarding the impact of COVID-19 on their health, both mental and physical, and livelihoods. These include: 1) Outlook on self/life, 2) Self-improvement, and 3) Loved ones (friends and family). In terms of support, while 2.91% did not require additional support, 91% wanted support beyond financial. Other unexpected new themes were also discussed regarding vulnerable populations suffering disproportionately. The pandemic has brought into sharp focus various changes in people’s mental health, physical health, and relationships. Greater policy considerations should be given to supporting citizens’ continued access to mental health when considering pandemic recovery.