Introduction: In Morocco, the first confirmed case of COVID-19 was on March 2nd, 2020. On March 11, 2020, the World Health Organization announced the outbreak of COVID-19 to be a pandemic. Due to the subsequent increase in confirmed cases in Morocco, a state of medical emergency with lock down was declared on March 20th, 2020. Pandemics, such as COVID-19, may lead to or further exacerbate psychological distress. The pandemic’s impact on mental health and eating disorders among health care professionals in Morocco is unknown. The aim of this study was to screen for depression and eating disorders among healthcare workers in Morocco during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Methods: An anonymous self-administered questionnaire was distributed to a sample of Moroccan healthcare workers via an online platform. The questionnaire included the SCOFF and PHQ-9 screening tools to assess for the presence of depression and eating disorders. A total of 389 questionnaires were completed.
Results: Of the participants, 29.3% had moderate to severe depression. Females and older participants had statistically significant higher rates of depression (p=0.012, 0.000, respectively). Eating disorders were present in 42% of our sample. The presence of an eating disorder was more likely among participants that were younger (<22 years old, p=0.01), obese (p=0.009), using cannabis (p=0.009), emotional eating (p<0.001) or diagnosed with depression (p=0.001).
Conclusion: The pandemic has negative impacts on mental health and eating behaviors among a sample of Moroccan health care workers. Compared to the pre-pandemic period, both rates of depression and eating disorders increased. This supports the need for increasing access to mental health services among healthcare professionals in Morocco as well as reducing the stigma associated with getting help.