COVID-19 and the state of mental health challenges among Women, Girls and Children: the case of Nigeria


  • Egharevba Matthew Etinosa Department of Sociology, Covenant University Ota, Nigeria
  • Adejumo Olubunmi Gbadebo Department of Psychology, Covenant University Ota, Nigeria
  • Olonade Yunusa Olawale Department of Sociology, Covenant University, Ota, Nigeria
  • Ugbenu Oke Ugbenu Oke, Directorate of Research National Institute for Policy and Strategic Studies Kuru, Jos, Nigeria
  • Kasa Adamu Gayus Department of Sociology, Covenant University, Ota, Nigeria



COVID-19, Children, Women, Inequality, mental health, human rights, social care support, violence, poverty, wellbeing


Health is a resource for daily existence and wellbeing. Mental, social, emotional, spiritual, psychological and physical health constitute an overall essence of that well-being. The COVID-19 epidemic has had a profoundly negative impact on women, children, and society as a whole by causing unfathomable loss, grief, pain, and solitude. The pandemic has pushed many families into poverty and exacerbated conditions of inequality with women and children exposed to violence and other deprivation which deeply impacted on their mental health. The study employed the use of content analysis of secondary sources of data, and the social stress, social model and general strain theories constituting the theoretical framework for examining the subject under investigation. The findings of the study demonstrated that the prevalence of mental disorders among women and children is rising, with serious human rights and socio-economic repercussions as a result of poverty and gender inequality. Furthermore, the majority of those suffering from mental health issues are unable to get the crucial medical and social care they need. The study's recommendation emphasized the need to address issues of poverty, inequality, and gender inequality as well as make sure that Nigeria's national and sustainable development policies and programmes must address the serious mental health problems that women and children currently face as well as those that will arise after the post-Covid-19 era.

Author Biography

Ugbenu Oke, Ugbenu Oke, Directorate of Research National Institute for Policy and Strategic Studies Kuru, Jos, Nigeria






World Health Organization (WHO) (1948) Constitution. World Health Organization, Geneva.

World Health Organization Global Health Risks (2009) Mortality and Burden of Disease

Attributable to Selected Major Risks.

WHO (2022) WHO coronavirus (COVIP-19) Dashboard, WHO. _

UNICEF (2021) The State of the World’s Children 2021: Om my mind-Promoting, protecting and

caring for the children’s mental health, UNICEF, New York.

The Guardian Newspaper (2021) COVID-19 impact pushing 1 in 6 Nigerian young adults into

depression. October 6th.

United Nations, (2020) Global Humanitarian Response Plan COVID-19, Global-Humanitarian-Response-Plan-COVID-


WHO (2018) Management of Physical Health conditions in adults with severe mental health

disorders-WHO guidelines. World Health Organization.

[The Lancet global Health (2020) Global Health Matters. Elsevier.

WHO (1978) Declaration of Alma-Ata International Conference on Public Healthcare. September 6th

to 12th

United Nations (2012) Health and population resolution adopted by the General assembly,

A/RES/66/288. United Nations Conference on sustainable development Rio+20

Ohrnberger, J., Fichera, E and Sutton, M (2017) The dynamics of physical and mental health in the

older population. J. Econ. Ageing 9, 52–62.

Lebedinsky, V., Yu., Koipysheva, E. A., Rybina L. D., Kudryavtsev, M. D., Iermakov, S.S, Osipov,

A.Yu and Sidorov, L.K. (2017). Age dynamic of physical condition changes in preschool age girls,

Schoolgirls and students, living in conditions of Eastern Siberia. Physical Education of Students, 06,


WHO (2010) Mental health and development: targeting people with mental health conditions

as vulnerable group. WHO. Geneva.

American Psychiatric Association (APA) (2022) What is mental illness? APA,

Washington. /what-is-mental-illness

WHO (2019) Mental disorders. WHO. Geneva.


Neria, Y, Nandi, A., Galea, S (2008) Post- traumatic stress disorder following disasters: a

systematic review. Psychol Med. 38(4):467- 480. doi:10.1017S0033291707001353

World Health Organization (2022) Global Burden of Disease study, WHO, New York.

Nochaiwong, S., Ruengorn, C., Thavorn, K., Hutton, B., Awiphan, R., Phosuga, C., Ruanta,

Y., Wongpakaran, N and Wongpakaran, T (2021) Global prevalence of mental health issues among

general population during the coronavirus disease-2019 pandemic: a systematic review and meta-

analysis, Nature (11):10173 10.1038/s41598- 021-89700-8.

WHO (2022) Covid-19 pandemic triggers 25% increase in prevalence of anxiety and

depression worldwide. WHO, Geneva.

WHO (2020) Q&A on Coronaviruses. Available online at:

news-room/q-a-detail/q-a- coronaviruses

Holshue, M. L., DeBolt, C., Lindquist, S., Lofy, K. H., Wiesman, J., Bruce, H et al.

(2020) First Case of 2019 Novel Coronavirus in the United States. N Engl J Med.

:929–36. doi: 10.1056/NEJMoa2001191

Yeo, C., Kaushal, S and Yeo, D (2020). Enteric involvement of coronaviruses: is faecal–oral

transmission of SARS-CoV-2 possibl Lancet Gastroenterol Hepatol. 5:335–37. doi:


Chen, H., Guo, J., Wang, C., Luo, F., Yu, X., Zhang, W, et al. (2020) Clinical characteristics

and intrauterine vertical transmission potential of COVID-19 infection in nine pregnant

women: a retrospective review of medical records. Lancet. 395:809–15.

doi: 10.1016/S0140-6736(20)30360-3

Cheng, V.C. C., Chan, J. F.W., Yuen, K. Y et al (2013. Clinical management and infection

control of SARS: Lessons learned. Antiviral Res.100:407–19 doi:10.1016/j.antiviral.2013.08.016

Huang, C., Wang, Y., Li, X., Ren, L., Zhao, J., Hu. , et al (2020). Clinical features of patients

infected with 2019 novel coronavirus Wuhan, China. Lancet, 395:497–506. doi:


Udugama, B., Kadhiresan, P., Kozlowski, H. N., Malekjahani, A., Osborne, M., Li, V. Y.C,

et al. (2020) Diagnosing COVID-19: the disease and tools for detection. ACS Nano,

:3822– 35. doi: 10.1021/acsnano.0c02624

Zhang, Y (2020) The Epidemiological Characteristics of an Outbreak of 2019 Novel

Coronavirus Diseases (COVID-19) — China, 2020. (2020) Available online at 6e2-c6c4- 41e9-9a9bfea8db1a8f51

Petersen, R., Pan, L., Blanck, H. M (2019) Racial and ethnic disparities in adult obesity in the

United States: CDC’s tracking to inform state and local action. Prev Chronic Dis. 16:180579.


Wang L, Southerland J, Wang K, Bailey, B. A., Alamian A., Stevens, M. A., et al. (2017) Ethnic

differences in risk factors for obesity among adults in California, the United States.

:2427483. doi: 10.1155/2017/2427483

Lancet, T and Medicine, R. (2020) Comment Understanding pathways to death in patients

with. Lancet Respir Med. 2019:2019–21. doi: 10.1016/S2213-2600(20)30165-X

Onder, G., Rezza, G. and Brusaferro, S (2020) Case-fatality rate and characteristics of patients

dying in relation to COVID-19 in Italy. JAMA. (2020) 323:1775–6.

doi: 10.1001/jama.2020.4683

Zhou, F., Yu, T., Du, R., Fan, G., Liu, Y., Liu, Z et al (2020) Clinical course and risk factors

For mortality of adult inpatients with COVID-19 in Wuhan, China: a retrospective cohort study.

Lancet. (2020) 395:1054–62. doi: 10.1016/S0140-6736(20)30566-3

Wilder-Smith A, Freedman D, O. (2020) Isolation, quarantine, social distancing and community

containment: pivotal role for old- style public health measures in the novel

coronavirus (2019-nCoV) outbreak. J Travel Med. 27:taaa020. doi: 10.1093/jtm/taaa020

Global Burden of disease (2019) Health data.

World Bank (2021) “For every two Covid-19 deaths, one child loses a caregiver, we must do

more to address the orphan crisis. World Bank.

Imperial College and Lancet Health (2021) Covid-19 Orphanhood data dashboard

Juliette, H., Unwin, T., Hillis, S., Cluver, L., Flaxman, S., Goldman, P., Butchart, A.,

Bachman, G, et al (2022) Lancet Child Adolesc Health, 6: 249-59

Hillis, S. D., Unwin, H. J. T., Chen, Y, et al. (2021) Global minimum estimates of children

affected by COVID-19-associated orphanhood and deaths of caregivers: a modelling study.

Lancet; 398: 391–402.

UNAIDS, UNICEF, USAID (2004). Children on the brink: a joint report of new orphan

estimates and a framework for action. publications/external-

documents/unicef_childrenonthebrink2004_ en.pdf.

Ezell, J., Harrison, S.E., Jiang, Y and Li, X (2021) Impact of adverse childhood events on

the psychosocial functioning of children affected by parental HIV in rural China. Front Psychol 11:

Shoko, M., Ibisomi, L., Levin, J and Ginsburg, C. (2018) Relationship between orphanhood

status, living arrangements and sexual debut: evidence from females in middle adolescence

in southern Africa. J Biosoc Sci; 50: 380–96.

Kidman, R and Anglewicz, P (2017) Why are orphaned adolescents more likely to be HIV

positive? Distinguishing between maternal and sexual HIV transmission using 17 nationally

representative data sets in Africa. J Adolesc Health; 61: 99–106.

Himaz, R (2013) Impact of parental death in middle childhood and adolescence on child

outcomes. J Afr Econ; 22: 463–90.

Chae, S (2013) Timing of orphanhood, early sexual debut, and early marriage in four sub-

Saharan African countries. Stud Fam Plann, 44: 123–46.

Goldman, P. S., Bakermans-Kranenburg, M. J, Bradford, B, et al (2020). Institutionalization

and deinstitutionalization of children 2: policy and practice recommendations for global,

national, and local actors. Lancet Child Adolesc Health; 4: 606–33.

Van IJzendoorn, M. H., Bakermans-Kranenburg, M. J., Duschinsky, R, et al (2020)

Institutionalization and deinstitutionalization of children 1: a systematic and integrative review

of evidence regarding effects on development Lancet Psychiatry, 7: 703–20

Chuong, C, and Operario, D (2012) Challenging household dynamics: impact of

orphanhood, parental absence, and children’s living arrangements on education in

South Africa Glob Public Health; 7: 42–57.

UNICEF (2021) Impact of Covid-19 on poor health in children and young people ‘tip of the

iceberg. UNICEF. press-releases/impact-covid-19-poor-mental-


The London School of Economics (2021) Report on the economic loss of mental health Problems.

UNICEF (2021) The State of the World’s Children 2021: Om my mind-Promoting,

protecting and caring for the children’s mental health, UNICEF, New York.

UN Women (2020) Gender-Based Violence in Nigeria during the Covid-19 Crisis: The

Shadow Pandemic. /2020/4/

UN Women (2020) Covid-19 and Ending Violence against Women and Girls. United


Graham-Harrison, E., Giuffrida, A., Smith, H. and Ford, L (2020) Lockdowns around the

world bring rise in domestic violence. The Guardian.

/mar/28/lockdowns-world-rise-domestic violence.

Peterman, A., Potts, A., O’Donnell, M., Thompson, K., Shah, N., Oertelt-prigione, S. et al (2020)

Pandemics and Violence against Women and Children. Washington, D.C.

WHO/SRH (2020) Covid-19 and violence against women: What the health sector/system can do.

Reed, E., Donta, B., Dasgupta, A., Ghule, M., Battala, M., Nair, S, et al (2015) Household

debt and relation to intimate partner violence and husbands’ attitude toward gender norms: a

study among married couples in rural Maharashtra, India. Public Health rep. 130:


UNODC (2020) Coronavirus (Covid-19) response: Thematic Brief on Gender-based Violence against

women and Girls, 2020

UNFPA and IPPF (2017) Global, Sexual and Reproductive Health Service package for men

And Adolescent boys: Clinical SRH Service and Components, sexual-and-reproductive-health-services package-men-and-


United Nations, (2020) Global Humanitarian Response Plan –COVID19, Global-Humanitarian-Response-Plan-COVID- 19. pdf.

UNFPA (2020) Impact of Covid-19 Pandemic on Family Planning and Ending Gender-Based

Violence, Female Genital Mutilation and Child Marriage, Interim Technical Note, 27 April

World Bank (2018) “Fact Sheet: Update on Addressing Gender-Based Violence in

Development Projects”,

update-on addressing-gender-based-violence-in- development-projects

Avasthi, V. (2016) Are Social theories still relevant in current psychiatric practice? Indian

Journal of Social Psychiatry, 32 (1): 3-9.

Mossakowski, K. N (2014) Stress and Mental Illness. Wiley Online Library

Sigfusdottir, I. D., Kristjansson, A. L., Thorlindsson, T. and Allengrante, J. P (2017)

Stress and adolescent well-being: the need for interdisciplinary framework. Health Promotion

International, 32: 1081-1090.

Ross, C. E. (2000) Neighborhood disadvantage and adult depression. Journal of Health and

Social Behaviour, 41, 77–187.

Aneshenses, C. S., Phelan, J. C. and Bierman, A (eds.) (2013) Handbook of sociology of mental

Health, Springer

Cockerham, W. C. (2011) Sociology of mental disorder. 8th ed. Upper Saddle River,

NJ: Pearson Prentice Hall.

Makosky V. (1982) Sources of stress: Events or conditions? In: Belle D, editor. Lives in Stress:

Women and Depression. California: Sage Publications; pp. 35–53.

World Health Organization (2000). Women's Mental Health: An Evidence Based Review

Coker, A. L., Watkins, K. W., Smith, P. H and Brandt, H. M (2003) Social support reduces the

impact of partner violence on health Application of structural equation models. Prev Med.; 37:259–

Campbell, J. C and Lewandowski, L. A (1997) Mental and physical health effects of intimate

partner violence on women and children. Psychiatr Clin North Am.; 20:353–74

Patel, V., Araya, R., de Lima, M., Ludermir, A and Todd, C (1999) Women, poverty and

common mental disorders in four restructuring societies. Soc Sci Med.; 49:1461–71.

Heise, L. and Garcia-Moreno, C (2002) Violence by intimate partners. In: Krug EG, Dahlberg L. L,

Mercy JA, editors. World Report on Violence and Health. Geneva: World Health Organization; pp.


Counts, D. A., Brown, J. K., Campbell, J. C and Boulder, C. O (1992) Sanctions and

sanctuary: Cultural Perspectives on the Beating of Wives, Westview Press.

United Nations General Assembly Declaration on the Elimination of Violence against Women.

Dohrenwend, B. P (1990) Socio-economic status (SES) and psychiatric disorders. Are the

issues still compelling? Soc Psychiatr Epidemiol. 25:41–

Arnold, F., Kishor, S and Roy, T. K (2002) Sex-Selective Abortion in India. Popul Dev

Rev.; 28: 759–85.

Najman, J. M (1993) Health and poverty: Past, present and prospects for the future. Soc Sci

Med. 36:157–66.

Blue, I., Ducci, M. E., Jaswal, A., Ludermir, B and Harpham, T (1995) The mental health of

low income urban women: Case studies from Bombay, India; Olinda, Brazil; and Santiago, Chile:

Urbanization and Mental Health in Developing Countries. In: Harpham T, Blue I, editors. Aldershot:


Marmot, M (2010) Fair society, healthy lives: the Marmot review: strategic review of health

inequalities in England post-2010.

Wilkinson, R. G., & Pickett, K. E. (2009). The Spirit Level: Why Equality is Better for Everyone.

London: Penguin UK.

Wilkinson, R. G (1996) Unhealthy societies: the afflictions of inequality. Routledge,


Marmot, M (2004). The status syndrome: how your social standing affects your health and life

expectancy. London, Bloomsbury.

Merton R. K. (1938) Social structure and anomie. In Sztompka P. (ed.), On Social

Structure and Science. The University of Chicago Press, Chicago and London, 1996, 132–

Bernburg J. G., Thorlindsson T., Sigfusdottir I. D. (2009a) Economic deprivation, community

context, and adolescent outcomes: a multilevel test of relative deprivation theory. Social

Forces, 87, 1223–1250.

Agnew R. (2006) Pressured into Crime: An Overview of General Strain Theory, 2nd edn.

Oxford University Press, USA.

Rubin, G. J., & Wessely, S. (2020). Coronavirus: The psychological effects of

quarantining a city. The BMJ Opinion. Retrieved from

/coronavirus-the psychological-%20effects-of-quarantining-a-city/

Soyore, M. O., Oleribe, O. O and Taylor-Robison, S. D (2021) Community Psychiatry

Care: An urgent need in Nigeria, Journal of Multidisciplinary Healthcare, 14: 1145-1148

Premium Times Newspaper (2021) World mental health day: how outdated legislation,

Covid- 19 worsen situation in Nigeria, October 10th 2021.

World Health Organization. (2020). Advice and guidance from WHO on COVID-19.

Retrieved from

Barbisch, D., Koenig, K. L., & Shih, F. F. (2015) Is there a case for quarantine?

Perspectives from SARS to Ebola. Disaster Medicine and Public Health Preparedness,

(5), 1–7.




How to Cite

Etinosa, E. M., Gbadebo, A. O., Olawale, O. Y., Oke, U., & Gayus, K. A. (2022). COVID-19 and the state of mental health challenges among Women, Girls and Children: the case of Nigeria. Advances in Social Sciences Research Journal, 9(7), 648–667.

Most read articles by the same author(s)