Mental Health Effects of COVID-19 Pandemic on Learners in Primary and Secondary Schools in Kenya


Aims: To assess the effect of COVID -19 on mental health of the learners in primary and secondary schools of Kenya. Study Design: The study adopted a cross-sectional research design where 96.5% of the respondents of the study were between the age of 6- 18 years. Place and Duration of the Study: The study was conducted in Kenya and it involved five counties namely Nairobi, Mombasa, Kajiado, Migori and Elgeyo Marakwet primary, secondary and special schools. The study was conducted between October 2021 and July, 2022. Methodology: In the five selected counties 12 schools were selected in each county where different sub-counties were considered. A 31 item paper questionnaire for learners on mental health was administered to assess levels for anxiety with ten(10) items, depression had eleven(11) items and and post-traumatic stress disorder had ten (10) items. The learners responded to a 3 point Likert scale of; “Not at all”(1) “Sometimes”(2) and “All the Time”(3) The scores were tabulated as follows: Anxiety; Normal 10 – 15, Mild 16 -20, Moderate 21- 25 and Severe 25 and above, Depression; Normal 11 – 18, Mild 19 -26, Moderate 27- 31 Severe 32 and above and finally Scores for PTSD; Normal 9 – 14, Mild 15 -19, Moderate 20- 24, Severe 25 and aboveNormal (1), Mild (2), Moderate (3) and Severe (4) though some items were reverse scored if the statement was negatively phrased. All the learners who scored an average of moderate to severe in this tool were identified as vulnerable and predisposed to risks of mental illness and therefore recommended for mental health interventions. Results: The study established that 25.7% of the learners reported moderate to severe levels of anxiety, 27.9% of the learners reported moderate to severe levels of depression and 44.4% of the learners reported moderate to severe levels of PTSD. Conclusion: The study established that there were heightened level of anxiety was a reality among school learners. There is need to implement efforts that address depressive symptoms before they escalate to unmanageable levels. Learners are experiencing post-traumatic stress disorder whose effects will continue to be felt for long period of time unless intervention takes place. Therefore Kenyan schools not only need to prevent but also manage learners exhibiting the mental health symptoms to promote holistic growth with fully functional citizenry.



Anxiety, COVID-19, Depression, Mental health, PTSD