Evaluation of Stress during the COVID-19
Pandemic in a Mexican population
COVIDiSTRESS International Project
Descriptive Report of data collected from March 30th to April 30th, 2020
Principal Investigator: Andreas Lieberoth (Aarhus University), firstname.lastname@example.org
Report Editor: F. Pérez-Gay Juárez (McGill University) email@example.com
Data cleaning and code: R. Flores González & C.R. Castro-López (Veracruzana University)
Report Authors: F. Pérez-Gay Juárez (McGill University), V. Reynoso-Alcántara (Veracruzana University),
C. Contreras Ibáñez (Autonomous Metropolitan University, Iztapalapa Unit), R. Flores González
(Veracruzana University), C.R.Castro-López (Veracruzana University), L. Martínez (University of California,
Merced) – COVIDiSTRESS México Group–
Data collection and collaboration: COVID-Stress International Collaboration
On March 11th 2020, the outbreak of COVID-19, a disease caused by the novel
coronavirus SARS-CoV-2, was officially declared a global pandemic by the World Health
Organization. This declaration, along with the protection measures executed in each
country, generated changes in the lives of millions of people and created a global
environment of uncertainty. The pandemic combined a series of situations that affect the
mental health of the population: long term quarantines imposed by authorities, fear of
infection, frustration, boredom, lack of supplies, inadequate, abundant and alarmist
information, financial loss, perception of social threat and the stigma associated with the
disease (Bao et al., 2020; Brooks et al. 2020; Garfin et al., 2020). Thus, the relevance of
studying mental health in relation to this health crisis in the general population and in
vulnerable groups has been established within the scientific community (Holmes et al.,
The COVIDiSTRESS Project is, in the words of its founders, “a collaborative
psychology project under extreme circumstances”. Initiated, driven and led by Dr. Andreas
Lieberoth and a group of scientists from the University of Aarhus, Denmark, this transcultural
project seeks to collect data on experiences, behavior and attitudes of people around the world
during the COVID-19 pandemic. Through an anonymous online survey, the project seeks to
identify the factors that generate psychological stress, document the level of compliance with
local norms to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, and measure trust in governments and
their preventative measures. The survey was translated to 52 different languages and
distributed in more than 50 countries.
In this context, our team of Mexican researchers (“Equipo México”) has carried out
a first stage of dissemination of the “COVIDiSTRESS global survey” since March 30th
through web portals, social networks, and our respective university news outlets, as well as
via emails and text messages to groups and individuals associated or known to the members
of this research team. As a result of this effort, that we refer to as the ‘first wave’ of diffusion
and participation, we have obtained 6424 responses of Mexican participants— out of 158771
responses on a global scale—wherein participants completed more than 80% of the
questionnaire. Mexico reached the 5th place in highest participation worldwide.
We consider that it is necessary to have a diagnosis of the consequences of this
pandemic on mental health in Mexico. Thus, the objective of this first report is to offer a first
overview of the level of perceived stress in the Mexican population that responded to the
survey and assess some of the presented findings.
Included are the following descriptive reports: demographic data of the sample,
isolation status, level of perceived stress, perceived stress by sex/gender, age and isolation
status, stress compared to other countries, main sources of stress, concerns over the
consequences of COVID-19, coping strategies, trust in governments and compliance with
social/physical distancing measures.
Participation was concentrated in the following states: Mexico City (n = 1739),
Veracruz (n = 1349), Estado de Mexico (n = 606), Jalisco (n = 345) & Nuevo León (n = 243).
These five states account for 66.65% of the participation. However, responses were collected
from throughout the country.
The respondents were 1715 males (27%), 4643 females (72%), and 31 individuals
which identified with ‘other’ as a gender or chose not to mention any identification (0.5%).
Another 35 individuals left this question unanswered. The observed average age of
respondents was 38 (SD = 13.82), with the highest participation between 21 to 30 years of
Note: 1% of participants did not identify as binary, or did not respond the age question.
Regarding educational level, most participants have a bachelor’s degree or graduate
studies. In terms of employment status, most participants were either full time employees or
self-employed when they responded.
The survey also asked about the participants’ current social/physical distancing
status during the pandemic. Most reported being in isolation (66.5%), while 31.3% said
they continued daily life with minor changes, 2% continued daily life without changes, and
0.2% were in isolation in a medical facility.
Level of stress in Mexico
To measure the level of stress, the 10-item version of the Perceived Stress Scale (PSS-
10, Cohen et al., 1983) validated by González and Landero (2007) for Mexican population
was used. The scale measures perceived stress in the previous week exploring aspects such
as loss of control over events, pressure to overcome difficulties and negative feelings about
unexpected changes. The result is a number between 1 and 5 that is categorized in three
levels, low (1-2.4), moderate (2.5-3.7) and high (more than 3.7). The general average of the
global stress index for this Mexican sample was M = 2.71 (SD = 0.74), which corresponds
to a moderate level of stress. Some 11% of the sample (711 individuals) reported high levels
of stress. The distribution of stress levels within the population can be observed in the
In terms of gender, women report higher levels of stress than men. On the other
hand, individuals that identified as non-binary reported even higher levels of stress
compared to the aforementioned groups.
Somewhat counterintuitively, if we consider the groups at high risk for severe illness,
we observe that it is the younger population that reports higher levels of perceived stress. The
relationship between age and stress is inversely proportional.
Another variable of interest is the individual’s isolation status. The following graph
indicates that those who reported being in isolation (66.5%), also reported higher levels of
stress than those whom reported continuing their lives without changes (2%).
An interactive visualization of the levels of stress by age, sex/gender, isolation status,
other demographic variables or the combination of these variables can be found here:
Levels of stress in Mexico compared to other countries
Compared to the rest of the world, stress in Mexico in this sample was neither among
the highest nor the lowest. Out of the countries with more than 500 responses to the survey,
Turkey and Brazil show higher levels of perceived stress, while the countries lower in the
graph show lower levels of perceived stress.
Sources of distress in Mexico
Participants responded how much they considered diverse situations as sources of
distress on a scale from 1 to 6. From this list of potential stressors related to COVID-19 (listed
to the left of the graph), participants reported higher levels of stress for (red-orange dots): 1)
the national economy, 2) risk of COVID-19 infection, 3) risk of hospitalization, and 4)
concerns over friends and family members that live far away. Dealing with children during
the quarantine and children’s education (green dots), do not appear to be a strong source of
concern amongst the Mexican population. The major stressor, the national economy,
coincides with the findings in the European analysis (Travaglino, 2020).
In a series of questions inquiring about concern of the consequences of COVID-19,
participants reported increased concern for family, followed by the future of the country.
Overall, all questions resulted in considerable levels of concern.
Coping strategies in Mexico
From the list of coping strategies that were investigated in the survey, Mexicans
reported that the most helpful activities to cope with stress were: 1) dedication to their
hobbies, 2) long distance interaction with family and friends, 3) watching television and 4)
dedication to their work. For the Mexicans that responded to the survey, information from
the government, religion, and videogames are not among the most helpful coping strategies.
Trust in institutions
Using the OCDE guidelines for measuring trust, six questions were formulated to
explore participants’ trust in diverse entities, within them the World Health Organization, the
country’s government, administrative public institutions, and the country’s healthcare
system. Another question was added to assess how much the population trusts the measures
implemented by the government to combat the pandemic.
While the population that responded to the survey reports high levels of trust in the
WHO, trust in Mexican institutions ranges from medium to low, with the Secretary of Health
as the most trusted national body and law enforcement (police) as the least trusted body.
Trust in the government’s effort to control the pandemic is at medium level.
Compliance with governmental measures
We report the responses of 2 items in which we asked participants how much they
have complied with social/physical distancing measures imposed by their government, using
a scale from 1 to 6. It is observed that the majority of people report doing everything possible
to remain out of public spaces.
Open science and open access
The COVIDiSTRESS global survey is an international scientific collaboration, a
result of the efforts of researchers of more than 40 countries to quickly and organically collect
data about human experiences during this SARS-CoV2 2020 pandemic.
This executive summary focuses on the levels of perceived stress, sources of distress,
coping strategies, trust in institutions and compliance with distancing measures in Mexico.
Data collection remains active (see data collection protocol at OSF.org) and further analyses
will be released as we receive new data. As an open science project, anyone with an interest
can access the database and lists of variables, including those that were not analyzed in this
The findings presented here are limited to the respondents of this survey. It is
necessary to state that the participants of this study have sociodemographic characteristics
that may not be entirely representative of the Mexican population. Mainly, the participants
have a high level of education and are mostly women. Additionally, the method of
dissemination implies the need to have access to an electronic device with internet connection
To cite this report:
Pérez-Gay Juárez, F., Reynoso-Alcántara, V., Flores González. R., Contreras-Ibáñez, C.,
Castro-López, C., Martínez, L. & The COVID-Stress International Collaboration (2020).
Evaluation of Stress during the COVID-19 Pandemic in a Mexican population. Report
of the results of the COVIDISTRESS global survey.
To cite the COVIDiSTRESS database:
COVIDiSTRESS global survey network (2020) COVIDiSTRESS global survey. DOI
10.17605/OSF.IO/Z39US, Retrieved from osf.io/z39us
The historical and updated database can be found here:
www.COVIDiSTRESSglobalsurvey.com / https://osf.io/z39us/
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Brooks, S. K., Webster, R. K., Smith, L. E., Woodland, L., Wessely, S., Greenberg, N., &
Rubin, G. J. (2020). The psychological impact of quarantine and how to reduce it: rapid
review of the evidence. The Lancet, 395(10227), 912–920.
Cohen, S., Kamarck, T., & Mermelstein, R. (1983). A global measure of perceived stress.
Journal of Health and Social Behavior, 24(4), 385-396. https://doi.org/10.2307/2136404
Garfin, D. R., Silver, R. C., & Holman, E. A. (2020). The novel coronavirus (COVID-2019)
outbreak: Amplification of public health consequences by media exposure. Health
Psychology, 39(5), 355-357. https://dx.doi.org/10.1037/hea0000875
González, T. & Landero, R. (2007). Factor structure of the Perceived Stress Scale (PSS) in a
sample from Mexico. Spanish Journal of Psychology, 10(1), 199–206.
Holmes, E. A., O’Connor, R. C., Perry, V. H., Tracey, I., Wessely, S., Arseneault, L., Ballard,
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(2020). Multidisciplinary research priorities for the COVID-19 pandemic: a call for
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Lives? Technical report. Open Science Framework, Kent, UK
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