According to a University of Rochester study, the
COVID-19 pandemic had a significant impact on mental health concerns on Twitter
in the United States, with certain groups of people, such as men and white
people, being more likely to express such concerns. 

This research
was published in the journal ‘Health Data Science,’ a science partner

Dongmei Li,
co-author and an associate professor with the University of Rochester Medical
Centre, stated that, “Mental health concerns have substantially increased
during the COVID-19 pandemic in the US. Using Twitter data, we aimed to
understand the mental health concerns in the US during the pandemic by
identifying major topics discussed and examining the potential differences in
demographic groups regarding mental health concerns through advanced deep
learning algorithms.”

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Between March 5,
2020, and January 31, 2021, the researchers collected COVID-19-related tweets.
The eligible tweets were compared to the daily COVID-19 case counts in the
United States to see if there was a possible correlation. Furthermore,
common topics among these tweets were identified, and demographic patterns of
Twitter users, such as age, gender, race, and location, were comprehended using

observed a positive correlation between the number of tweets mentioning mental
health concerns and the number of COVID-19 cases in the US.” Social
distance, travel restrictions, and uncertainty about the length of the COVID-19
pandemic seem to be the major contributors to the mental health concerns during
the pandemic in the US. All these indicated a significant impact of the
COVID-19 pandemic on mental health concerns in the US, and this impact is
observed more in males and white Twitter users. Li shared and explained
the study’s findings.

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In the United
States, the proportion of people who use Twitter decreases with age. During the
study period, however, the majority of people posting mental health-related
tweets were middle-aged and senior citizens. Furthermore, except for the 18-29 age group, males were more likely to
express mental health concerns than females in all age groups above 18 years. These findings added to the demographic profile of
Twitter users who experienced mental health issues during the pandemic.

research has shown that the COVID-19 pandemic has had a significant impact on the public’s
mental health. Furthermore, the volume of tweets about mental health had been
relatively constant prior to the COVID-19 outbreak. This study went a step
further, revealing a link between the COVID-19 pandemic and mental health
concerns on Twitter in the United States.

Interestingly, there is a spark of hope in the
downward trend of mental health-related tweets at the end of 2020 against high
COVID-19 cases, which could indicate confidence in the success of vaccine
development and vaccination programme rollout.

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Li commented,
as she considers the next phase of efforts, that,
“The next step is to put more effort into reassuring the confidence of the
public about fighting the COVID-19 pandemic and providing more mental health
support to the more vulnerable population.”

“With the development of effective
COVID-19 vaccines and the increasing prevalence of vaccination in the US and
globally, we hope the mental health concerns will be reduced in the US and
other countries,” Li said.

“Our ultimate goal is to inform the public about mental
health concerns during the pandemic through social media data mining, which
might help reduce the burden of mental health issues,” Li added.