The COVID-19 pandemic drastically changed our social life habits as governments employed harsh restrictions to reduce the spread of the virus. Though physical distancing and related countermeasures could impact mental health. In a pre-registered online survey (longitudinal), we assessed how effective a range of countermeasures were perceived, how severely they affected daily life, general distress and paranoia during the early phase of the outbreak in Brazil, Colombia, Germany, Israel, Norway and US. In follow-up surveys we measured protective and risk factors for mental health.

Participants who believed their country reacted too mildly perceived the risk of contracting Sars-CoV-2 to be higher, were more worried and expressed reduced beliefs in controlling the outbreak. Most of our respondents adapted to the new situation (resilience), having more protective factors than risk factors for their mental health. Our data highlight the importance of risk communication and trust in government and science.