When COVID-19 enters in a community setting: An exploratory qualitative study of community perspectives on COVID-19 affecting mental well-being

Naureen Akber Ali, Anam Shahil Feroz, Noshaba Akber, Rida Feroz, Salima Nazim Meghani, Sarah Saleem

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Citations (Scopus)


Objective The COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in an increased level of anxiety and fear among the general population related to its management and infection spread. Considering the relevance of present circumstances, we explored perceptions and attitudes of community members towards their mental well-being during the COVID-19 pandemic. Setting We conducted an exploratory qualitative study using a purposive sampling approach, at two communities of Karachi, Pakistan. Participants In-depth interviews were conducted with community members including, young adults, middle-aged adults and older adults of both genders. Study data were analysed manually using the thematic analysis technique. Primary outcome The primary outcome is assessing community perception towards their mental well-being amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. Results A total of 27 in-depth interviews were conducted, between May and June 2020. Three overarching themes were identified: (1) impact of COVID-19 on the mental health of the general communities; (2) current coping mechanisms to adapt to the new reality and (3) recommendations to address the mental health of communities. Generally, community members underwent increased anxiety and fear due to the contagious nature of the virus. Alongside, social, financial and religious repercussions of the pandemic have also heightened psychological distress among community members. However, community members were able to point out some of the coping mechanisms such as getting closer to God, connecting with family, participating in mental health sessions and resetting lives by indulging in diverse activities. Simultaneously, they also recommended the need for remote mental health services for elders and continuous efforts by the government to address the mental health needs of the community. Conclusion COVID-19-associated mental health consequences have hit every individual in society. The study finding has the potential to guide the development of context-specific innovative mental health programmes to overcome the pandemic repercussions.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere049851
JournalBMJ Open
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 13 May 2021


  • COVID-19
  • mental health
  • qualitative research


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