Our Communicating Public Health series provides a window into the rich conversation that took place online during the national lockdown in the UK, when almost half of the British public (47%) reported spending more time on social media.
The objectives for this study were explored through collection of relevant social media data, drawn using a bespoke search query within the Synthesio platform. The result was a cleaned dataset of 27,497 social media posts from between 01 February and 30 June 2020. The dataset included posts from social networks, forums, and comments. Analysis of the dataset was conducted using topic modelling, factor analysis and qualitative investigation. As part of a wider investigation of implications for physical health, the initial topic model analysis was further supplemented through exploration of four additional topics on social media.
This, the fourth report of four, looks at some of the discussions about mental and physical health among social media users during the pandemic.
“In addition to the predictable anxiety expressed around the peak of the pandemic’s first wave, we can clearly discern a ‘pulling together’ of people who contribute to online communities – considerable efforts to provide advice and support as well as to articulate sympathy where appropriate. In this, we can perhaps see our inherently social selves making use of technology to reach out and connect with one another, despite the restrictions applied to physical interactions. It does, nonetheless, raise serious questions about the impact of the digital divide upon those excluded from participation in such virtual meeting spaces.” Annemarie Naylor MBE, Director of Policy & Strategy