New Oxford University research study will track what helps or harms adolescents’ mental health during the COVID-19 crisis

1 May 2020

A new research survey launches today from experts at the University of Oxford along with collaborators from the Universities of Cambridge, Glasgow, and New South Wales. It will track adolescents’ mental health during the COVID-19 crisis to find out what promotes or hinders their resilience.

We know that mental health problems often first appear during adolescence. The COVID-19 pandemic and social isolation is likely to intensify stresses and mental health issues, particularly for young people. The research study, called Oxford ARC (Oxford Achieving Resilience during COVID-19: will evaluate what hinders and what promotes resilience during the pandemic.

The study will assess common mental health problems relating to worry, anxiety, depression, eating-related problems and mental inflexibility as well as examining how various activities such as social media use, video conferencing and exercise affects young people’s mental health.

The Oxford ARC study is international and 13-18-year olds and their parents or carers are being asked to take part.

Professor Elaine Fox, Professor of Psychology & Affective Neuroscience at the University of Oxford, said, 'Understanding how social isolation and the pandemic is affecting young people’s mental health is crucial. This study will help us to better understand how to safeguard mental health and how to promote resilience in young people and their parents or carers, should similar situations arise in the future.'

Dr Amy Orben, Research Fellow, MRC Cognition & Brain Sciences Unit, University of Cambridge, added, 'Tracking how young people feel during this unprecedented time will provide a rich data source to support urgent work aimed at mitigating the crisis’ impact on mental health; it will also enable longer-term research that can provide new perspectives on resilience, coping and community.'

Elina Thomas Jones from the TRIUMPH Network’s Youth Advisory Group says, 'From my perspective, everything that made me anxious before lockdown has been taken away, however I've also lost the socialisation which kept me happy. The uncertainty of the future and the sudden changes lead to confusion and rising levels of anxiety and other mental ill health. Additionally, with counselling and other support networks being online only, it feels as if it's not really there at all which makes this period much harder than it is already.'

For further details and how to take part, please visit:

Follow the study team on Twitter @oceanoxford

For further information or interview requests, contact Gen Juillet, Media Relations Manager,

Notes to Editors:

The Oxford ARC survey is available online at

How participants can take part:

  • Sign up via the Oxford ARC study website at 
  • Complete an Initial questionnaire & optional task (35-40 minutes) 
  • Complete a shorter 10-15-minute follow-up questionnaire every week for the first few months and then monthly up to 12 months o Complete a final questionnaire and optional task at 12 months 

The Oxford ARC study research team, based at the Department of Experimental Psychology, University of Oxford, includes: Prof Elaine Fox (Principle Investigator), Dr Sam Parsons, Dr Ana Todorovic, Dr Annabel Songco, Ms Michelle Lim along with Prof Susanne Schweizer (University of Cambridge & University of New South Wales) and Dr Amy Orben (University of Cambridge).

The UKRI funded Transdisciplinary Research for the Improvement of Youth Mental Public Health (TRIUMPH) Mental Health Network led by Prof Joanna Inchley and her team at the University of Glasgow is collaborating in the study.

The University of Oxford’s Experimental Psychology Department’s mission is to conduct world-leading experimental research to understand the psychological and neural mechanisms relevant to human behaviour. Wherever appropriate, we translate our findings into evidence-based public benefits in mental health and well-being, education, industry, and policy. Key areas of research include Behavioural Neuroscience, Developmental Psychology, Social Psychology, and Psychological and Brain Health.

The research is funded by the Economic & Social Research Council (ESRC).