I.S. title: News Impacting Anxiety, Depression and Empathy During the COVID-19 Pandemic
Mentor: Michelle Colvin, assistant professor of psychology
TongTong Wu ’21, from Shenzhen, China, focused her senior Independent Study on how the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted mental health. Using her personal experiences with mental health to fuel this project, Wu feels that “people need to be mindful of how the pandemic impacts and changes people’s mental health and stress levels. Empathy during the pandemic has been important for people because it helps everyone in society to become more pro-social and actively care for others.”
“I was surprised to find that not only front-line workers experience mental health issues, but also the general population who live in this disastrous time have become traumatized, anxious and depressed by this pandemic.”
—TongTong Wu ’21
What inspired you to choose this research?
“I mainly wondered how people’s mental health state has changed since 2020 because of an adjustment to new daily routines and life changes that the pandemic caused. I have personally experienced anxiety, depression, and empathy during the pandemic. The news media reports only made my mental health worse. However, spending less time on news media improved my mental health problems drastically.”
What conclusions were you able to draw?
“My research highlights that anxiety and depression are important mental health issues that the general population should address. People need to be mindful of how the pandemic impacts and changes people’s mental health and stress levels. Empathy during the pandemic has been important for people because it helps everyone in the society to become more sociable and actively care for others.”
How did your time at Wooster prepare you for this research?
“The psychology courses Wooster offered played a large role in preparing me for this research. Most importantly, the psychology labs provided me with the hands-on experience I needed. My advisor helped me to fully brainstorm my ideas and guided me to design an experiment by carefully choosing the variables and manipulating experimental conditions. She has also taught me to how to effectively analyze data and interpret statistical analysis.”
What is next for you or what are your plans after graduation?
“I will be pursuing my master’s in counseling at New York University’s School of Steinhardt. I would love to use my education in psychology to help more people who struggle with mental health issues.”