Mental health toll from the coronavirus: Social media usage reveals Wuhan residents’ depression and secondary trauma in the COVID-19 outbreak

Bu Zhong, Yakun Huang, Qian Liu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

This study investigates the possible association between social media usage and the mental health toll from the coronavirus at the peak of Wuhan's COVID-19 outbreak. Informed by the Crisis and Emergency Risk Communication Model and Health Belief Model, it proposes a conceptual model to study how people in Wuhan – the first epicenter of the global COVID-19 pandemic – used social media and its effects on users' mental health conditions and health behavior change. The results show that social media usage was related to both depression and secondary trauma, which also predicted health behavior change. But no relation was detected between health behavior change and mental health conditions. As the virus struck, social media usage was rewarding to Wuhan people who gained informational, emotional, and peer support from the health information shared on social media. An excessive use of social media, however, led to mental health issues. The results imply that taking a social media break may promote well-being during the pandemic, which is crucial to mitigating mental health harm inflicted by the pandemic.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number106524
JournalComputers in Human Behavior
Volume114
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 2021

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Human-Computer Interaction
  • Psychology(all)

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