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Quantifying the Effects of COVID-19 on Mental Health Support Forums

Biester, Laura; Matton, Katie; Rajendran, Janarthanan; Mower Provost, Emily; Mihalcea, Rada

Code for the NLP COVID-19 Workshop @EMNLP2020 paper "Quantifying the Effects of COVID-19 on Mental Health Support Forums." Laura Biester and Katie Matton contributed equally to this project.

Abstract: The COVID-19 pandemic, like many of the disease outbreaks that have preceded it, is likely to have a profound effect on mental health. Understanding its impact can inform strategies for mitigating negative consequences. In this work, we seek to better understand the effects of COVID-19 on mental health by examining discussions within mental health support communities on Reddit. First, we quantify the rate at which COVID-19 is discussed in each community, or subreddit, in order to understand levels of pandemic-related discussion. Next, we examine the volume of activity in order to determine whether the number of people discussing mental health has risen. Finally, we analyze how COVID-19 has influenced language use and topics of discussion within each subreddit.

Contact: Please contact Laura Biester (lbiester@umich.edu) with questions.

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