Anxiety during the coronavirus pandemic

By Roxy Cox

I am a recent English Language graduate at the University and I recently completed an internship working within the psychology department. As I worked from home I had the pleasure of starting to conduct a research project on a topic of interest.

The research project investigated how Twitter users were affected following Boris’ announcement on the 24th March 2020 addressing lockdown in the UK.  A dataset of Twitter posts was analysed over a 5-hour period from 7.30pm. I wanted to investigate and explore how Twitter users self-disclose their feelings of anxiety in relation to the coronavirus pandemic. Due to the volume of tweets I chose to narrow it down to those including the hashtag #anxiety and #coronavirius with the different variations (#COVID19 etc.). From this, three common themes emerged:

– Users disclosing their own personal feelings of anxiety, including present anxiety and constant feelings of anxiety –“Does anyone else start scratching like crazy when they’re very anxious to the point you bleed and if there anyway to cope with it its getting out of control for me cause of this coronavirus #mentalhealth #anxiety #coronavirus and expressing current feelings of anxiety through artistic form; “A #poem about living with the #coronavirus #COVID19 #pandemic . #mentalhealth #MentalHealthMatters #MentalHealthAwareness #depression #SuicideAwareness #anxiety #PoemADay #poetrycommunity #antidepressantpoet”.


– Anxiety for others, including direct and indirect support for others who may have anxiety and spreading awareness of mental health – “Love this, this is an anxiety provoking time. Let’s be kind and respectful to each other, we don’t know how people are feeling behind closed doors #Anxiety #COVID19 #itsoknottobeok.”


– Anxiety in relation to other mental health conditions (OCD, PTSD, and depression) – “Dealing with #Anxiety or #OCD on an average day can feel overwhelming, adding things like #Covid19 can make it feel unmanageable. @BBCNews has some tips on ways to help ease the stress that this #pandemic may cause on your #mentalhealth and quotes relating to anxiety support – This is a brilliant #quote during the #Covid19 crisis. Do remember to have some #fun because #laughing & #smiling muscles activate in brain release of feel good chemicals & at this time of high #stress & #anxiety that’s so good for #mentalhealth #JoyTrain #quotes.”


By using a qualitative analysis of the tweets I was able to conduct an in-depth analysis of the section of the data chosen, although there is still much more analysis to be done on the data provided. It was pleasing to find that the main content of tweets focused on supporting others, giving advice and spreading awareness of anxiety and mental health during this difficult time.

If you or anyone you know is struggling, please refer to this website where you will find advice, guidance and where to get urgent support if needed:

Stay safe. 🙂

Blog mental health psychology research writing

Health blogging – new research about impact of writing style

By Dr Sarah Norgate


Ever since blogs arrived on the scene – so, well over two decades ago now – researchers have looked at the extent of benefits of blogging for wellbeing, psychosocial gain and business growth. In the health sector, practitioners and campaigners are increasingly exploring whether health blogging serves as a potential tool for motivating people to make lifestyle changes to prevent onset of health problems.

A new discovery out this year from Carmen Stavrositu (University of Colorado) and Jinhee Kim (Pohang University of Science and Technology)1 shows that the type of narrative used in a blog posting makes a difference to people’s behavioural intentions and perceived vulnerability to health risks.


The team set up a blog post called ‘My battle with skin cancer’, and manipulated blog posts to be either ‘transporting narratives’ or ‘non-narratives’. In the transporting version of the blog-post, the reader was immersed in the journey saying what lifestyle changes they would have done differently if they had known better. In the ‘non-narrative’ version the blog remained non-personal and factual. In addition, the researchers also manipulated reader response posts to the blog as being either appreciative for the advice (thanks for the tips, and for sharing) or discounting the advice (have you not heard that….).

After reading the blog, readers of the ‘transported’ narrative were more likely to say they would change their lifestyle – to wear sunscreen regularly or to seek out further information on skin cancer prevention. Compared with before reading the blog, readers perceived themselves as no less vulnerable than others to experiencing negative health outcomes. However, once the reader’s negative/positive comments were taken into account, the picture was more complex. Having the appreciative comments on the blog actually increased the chance that readers thought they were no less vulnerable than others.

The potential role of health blogging interventions raises questions about the reliance on traditional didactic approaches on online information sites.

Onwards then…. towards a new generation of evidence based online health interventions. But in doing this, let’s not forget the voice of the citizen or consumer.

Now then, as this first ever blog has been written more in ‘non-transporting’ mode I decided to make this last sentence more personal. Just to say thanks to other blog writers and social media species who inspired this.

Carmen D. Stavrositu & Jinhee Kim (2015) All Blogs Are Not Created Equal: The Role ofNarrative Formats and User-Generated Comments in Health Prevention, Health Communication, 30:5, 485-495, DOI: