Assessing the hazards of an infectious disease is usually a vital concern in epidemiology . However, the rapid spread of an infectious disease is usually associated with anxiety, fear, psychological distress, and other mental symptoms .
The findings revealed a negative impact of COVID-19 on the social and mental wellbeing of youth. More than half of the respondents reported some impairment of social activities, and many of them reported “severely impaired” leisure activities; this could be attributed in part to the panic of being in contact with the “probably” infected persons in overcrowded places, and, on the other hand, to the lockdown that was imposed by the health and political authorities for more than 3 months. These findings are consistent with what was reported in some other studies [5, 14, 15].
The incidence of mental symptoms is known to be lower in youth compared to other age categories. Meta-analysis of the prevalence of anxiety and depression among adolescents and young adults generated a pooled prevalence estimate of 19.1% and 14.3%, respectively ; however, the current study showed a higher incidence of anxiety and depressive symptoms among youth—this could be attributed to the psychological consequences of the pandemic which created a feeling of panic from the sequels of COVID-19 especially after the accelerating registration of deaths.
Men are usually less vulnerable to suffer from mental symptoms than women [17, 18]; however, the interesting finding in the current study was that the prevalence of mental symptoms in males is approximating that in females with no significant difference, this could be attributed to the effect of the prolonged lockdown and strict limitation of movement that was not experienced by males (especially youth—the most active age group) before the time of pandemic  although anxiety and nervousness were a bit more in women compared to men. The prolonged exposure of the Iraqis to continuous wars, sanctions, armed conflicts, and wide spectrum of violence for more than four decades [20, 21] might have a deep influence on their thoughts, feelings, and behaviors.
The feeling of anxiety (most/all of the time) was higher than what was reported among samples of university students in the United Arab Emirates, 5 Australia, 6 and in South-west Ethiopia . This could be explained by differences in culture, instruments used, and sampling techniques.
The importance of this study comes from the validity of its genuine subject; however, the findings may be difficult to interpret because of the potential limitation of the sample size, due to the relatively low response rate attributed to the sensitivity of the subject and people avoidance to share information related to their psychological condition. Despite this limitation, these data allow important conclusions to be drawn about the social and mental burden of this newly emerging disease more broadly.