Commenced in January 2007
Frequency: Monthly
Edition: International
Paper Count: 32451
The Psychological Effects of the COVID-19 Pandemic on Non-Healthcare Migrant Workers in a Construction Company in Saudi Arabia

Authors: Viviane Nascimento, Dania Mehmod


Introduction: The Coronavirus (COVID-19) disease was firstly reported in Asia at the end of 2019 and became a pandemic at the beginning of 2020. It resulted in a significant impact over the global economy and the health care systems around the world. The immediate measure adopted worldwide to contain the virus was mainly the lockdown and curfews. This certainly had an important impact on expats workers due to the financial insecurity, culture barrier and distance from the family. Saudi Arabia has one of the largest flows of foreign workers in the world and expats are the majority of the workforce. The aim of this essay was assessing the psychological impact of COVID-19 in non-health care expats living in Saudi Arabia. Methods: The study was conducted in a construction company in Riyadh with non-health care employees. The cross-sectional study protocol was approved by the company's executive management. Employees who verbally agreed to participate in the study were asked to anonymously answer a questionnaire validated for behavioral research (DASS-21). In addition, a second questionnaire was created to assess feelings and emotions. Results: More than a third of participants screened positive for one or more psychological symptoms (depression, anxiety and stress) on the DASS-21 scale. Moreover, it was observed an increase on negative feelings on the additional questionnaire. Conclusion: This study reveals an increase on negative feelings and psychological symptoms among non-health care migrant workers during the COVID-19 pandemic. In light of this, it is crucial to understand the emotional effects caused by the pandemic on migrant workers in order to create supportive and informative strategies minimizing the emotional impact on this vulnerable group.

Keywords: COVID-19 pandemic, Saudi Arabia, psychological effects, migrant workers.

Procedia APA BibTeX Chicago EndNote Harvard JSON MLA RIS XML ISO 690 PDF Downloads 325


[1] Al-Tawfiq JA, Memish ZA. COVID-19 in the Eastern Mediterranean Region and Saudi Arabia: prevention and therapeutic strategies. Int J Antimicrob Agents. 2020 May; 55(5): 105968. doi:10.1016/j.ijantimicag.2020.105968
[2] International Labour Organization. International labour standards on migrant workers. Available: (Accessed 17 Apr 2020).
[3] General Authority for Statistic (GASTAT). Employment rate 2019. Riyadh: GASTAT; 2020 (
[4] International Labour Organization (ILO). ILO global estimates on migrant workers: results and methodology. Geneva: International Labour Office, 2015. WCMS_652001/lang--en/index.htm
[5] Vanderbruggen N, Matthys F, Laere S.V, et al. Self-reported alcohol, tabacco and cannabis. Use during COVID-19 lockdown measures: Results from a web-based survey. Eur Addict Res. DOI: 10.1159/000510822
[6] Holmes EA, O’Connor RC, Perry VH, et al. Multidisciplinary research priorities for the COVID-19 pandemic: a call for action for mental health science. Lancet Psychiatry 2020; 7:547–60.
[7] C. Wang, R. Pan, X. Wan, Y. Tan, L. Xu, C.S. Ho, et al. Immediate psychological responses and associated factors during the initial stage of the 2019 coronavirus disease (COVID-19) epidemic among the general population in China Int J Environ Res Public Health, 17 (2020), 10.3390/ijerph17051729
[8] Kumar K, Mehra A, Sahoo S, Nehra R, Grover S. The psychological impact of COVID-19 pandemic and lockdown on the migrant workers: A cross-sectional survey. Asian J Psychiatry 53(2020) 102252.
[9] Alahmad B, Kurdi H, Colonna K, et al. COVID-19 stressors on migrant workers in Kuwait: cumulative risk considerations. BMJ Global Health 2020;5:e002995. doi:10.1136/ bmjgh-2020-002995.
[10] Barbato M, Thomas J. Letter to the editor: Far from the eyes, close to the heart: Psychological impact of COVID-19 in a sample of Italian foreign workers. Psychiatry Research 290 (2020) 113113.
[11] Saquib J, Taleb M, AlMeimar R, Alhomaidan HT, Al-Mohaimeed A, AlMazrou A, et al. Job insecurity, fear of and mental health among expatriate nurses. Arch Environ Occup Health. 2020;75(3):144-51
[12] Al-Maskari, F., Shah, S.M. ,Al-Sharhan, R., Al-Haj, E., Al-Kaabi, K., Khonji, D., Schneider, J.D., Nagelkerke, N.J., Bernsen, R.M., 2011. Prevalence of depression and suicidal behaviors among male migrant workers in United Arab Emirates. J. Immigr. Minor Health 13,1027–1032.
[13] Lacey, K.K., Sears, K.P., Govia, I.O., Forsythe-Brown, I., Matusko, N., Jackson, J.S., 2015. Substance use mental disorder sand physical health of Caribbeans at home compared to those residing in the United States. Int.J. Environ. Res. Public Health12,710–734.
[14] Nadim, W.; Al Otaibi, A.; Al-Mohaimeed, A.; Ewid, M.; Sarhandi, M.; Saquib, J.; Alhumdi, K.; Alharbi, A.; Depression among migrant workers in Al-Qassim, Saudi Arabia. J. A. Disorders. 2016, 206, 103-108.
[15] A. Moghanibashi-Mansourieh. Assessing the anxiety level of Iranian general population during COVID-19 outbreak Asian J Psychiatr, 51 (2020), 10.1016/j.ajp.2020.102076.
[16] N. Ozamiz-Etxebarria, M. Dosil-Santamaria, M. Picaza-Gorrochategui, N. Idoiaga-Mondragon Niveles de estrés, ansiedad y depresión en la primera fase del brote del COVID-19 en una muestra recogida en el norte de España Cad Saude Publica, 36 (2020), Article e00054020, 10.1590/0102-311X00054020
[17] C. Wang, R. Pan, X. Wan, Y. Tan, L. Xu, C.S. Ho, et al. Immediate psychological responses and associated factors during the initial stage of the 2019 coronavirus disease (COVID-19) epidemic among the general population in China. Int J Environ Res Public Health, 17 (2020), 10.3390/ijerph17051729
[18] Zhong, B.L.; Chan, S.S.M.; Liu, T.B.; Jin, D.; Hu, C.Y.; Chiu, H.F.K. Mental health of the old- and new-generation 2016, 206, 103–108
[19] Zhong, B.L.; Liu, T.B.; Chan, S.S.; Jin, D.; Hu, C.Y.; Dai, J.; Chiu, H.F. Prevalence and correlates of major depressive disorder among rural to urban migrant workers in Shezhen, China. J. A. ect. Disorder. 2015, 183, 1-9.
[20] Grzywacz, J.G.; Chatterjee, A.B.; Quandt, S.A.; Talton, J.W.; Chen, H.; Weir, M.; Arcury, T.A. Depressive symptoms and sleepiness among Latino farmworkers in eastern North Carolina. J. Agromed. 2011, 16, 251–260.
[21] Wu, J.; Yang, T.; Rockett, I.R.; Xing, R.; Karalic, S.; Li, Y.; Zhang, Y. Nicotine dependence among rural-urban migrants in China. BMC Public Health 2011, 11, 296.
[22] Yao, L. Rural-urban Migration and Health: Evidence from Longitudinal Data in Indonesia. Soc. Sci. Med. 2010, 70, 412–419.