Psychosocial Aspects During the First Wave of COVID-19 Infection in South Africa

Antonio G. Lentoor*, Mokoena Patronella Maepa

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)


Background: In South Africa, as in many countries, the nationwide spread of COVID-19 caused a public health emergency that resulted in the government implementing necessary restrictive measures such as the nationwide lockdown as a way of containing the pandemic. Such restrictive measure, while necessary, can disrupt many aspects of people's lives resulting in unprecedented psychosocial distress. Aim: The present study aims to describe the psychosocial health and situational factors associated with the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) in South Africa during the first wave of infection. Methods: This cross-sectional survey, recruited a total of 203 participants through convenience sampling via online platforms—WhatsApp, Facebook, emails, etc.—during COVID-19 lockdown in the country. Through the snowball technique, participants from across South Africa completed the online survey that assessed socio-demographic information, risk perception, history of mental health, COVID-19-related stress, and fears during the lockdown (first wave). Results: The majority of the participants who completed the survey were young, Black African, and female. Participants reported feelings of stress and anxiety (61.2%); stress about finances (39.5%); and feelings of sadness, anger, and/or frustration (31.6%) during the lockdown. Females compared to males were more likely to perceive COVID-19 as a risk to their household, (Formula presented.) = 45,844, p < 0.001 and community, (Formula presented.) = 40,047, p = 0.005. COVID-19 differentially impacted the mental health of participants with and without mental health diagnosis, (Formula presented.) = 16.596, p = 0.002. Participants with a prior mental health diagnosis reported significant extra stress during lockdown (p < 0.05). Conclusion: The findings may be of significance to assist in the development of targeted psychosocial interventions to help people during and after the pandemic.

Original languageEnglish
Article number663758
JournalFrontiers in Psychiatry
Publication statusPublished - 21 Jun 2021


  • COVID-19
  • anxiety
  • depression
  • lockdown 2020
  • mental health
  • psychosocial
  • stress
  • threat


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