Posts By / cpanourgia

New publication from the Department of Psychology

A paper titled, Individual factors in the relationship between stress and resilience in mental health psychology practitioners during the COVID-19 pandemic” is now published in Journal of Health Psychology and is available at

This paper is an outcome of a QR funded project that was conducted by Dr Constantina Panourgia, Dr Agata Wezyk and Dr Ala Yankouskaya from the Department of Psychology in collaboration with academics from University of West London (Dr Annita Ventouris) and Catholic University of Lyon (Dr Amanda Comoretto) and a former BU MSc student (Miss Zoe Taylor).

This  paper explores the concurrent effects of pre-pandemic and COVID-19 stress on resilience in Mental Health Psychology Practitioners focussing on the mediation effects of specific individual factors. Optimism, burnout and secondary traumatic stress, but not coping strategies, self-efficacy, compassion satisfaction, or self-compassion, mediated both the relationship between pre-pandemic stress and resilience and COVID-19 stress and resilience. These findings may be explained by the increased workload caused by the pandemic, and the nature and duration of COVID-19. Very importantly, they address the role of training and supervision practices that allow Mental Health Psychology Practitioners to reflect on their capacity to deal with their job demands under circumstances of general and extreme stress and to identify early signs of burnout and secondary traumatic stress.

The research team plans to extend the above findings by examining the long-term effects of vicarious traumatisation on this group of professionals currently performing their duties in this complex historical moment.

What do teachers say about the impact of technology on children and young people’s emotions and behaviours?

Dr Constantina Panourgia and Dr Sarah Hodge from the Department of Psychology, in collaboration with Dr Annita Ventouris from the University of West London carried out a research project during the pandemic and published a paper on teachers’ views on how use of technology affects children and young people’s (CYP) emotions and behaviours in the International Journal Of Educational Research.


During the lockdown the use of technology among CYP was increased raising concerns and questions related to their mental health and wellbeing. Previous research findings on the effects of technology on CYP’s emotions and behaviours are contradictory. Parents/guardians and educators may feel uncertain as to how to integrate technology in CYP’s lives in an effective and healthy way, emphasizing the necessity for consistent and evidence-based guidelines and policies. The researchers, decided to focus and investigate teachers’ perspectives considering their vital role in supporting CYP’s wellbeing and learning. Although there is a lot of evidence on technology use in schools, there is little to no research on how teachers view the use of technology by CYP and how it affects their emotions and behaviours.


The findings of this study showed teachers viewed technology as an important learning and teaching tool, when applied in a balanced way. Teachers also recognised the negative consequences of the ‘digital divide’ (from access related to social economic status) on CYP’s emotions and behaviours. However, they expressed contradictory opinions on issues related to the impact of technology on socialisation/isolation and self-esteem.

The findings of this study can provide insights into how technology can be used effectively in the classroom and for supporting CYP’s mental health and wellbeing; they also indicated training needs for educators and the need for the implementation or modification of relevant practices (e.g. technology training within teacher training) and policies (e.g. addressing the digital divide). It is suggested that future studies should explore the views of teachers working in deprived areas and in Special Educational Needs schools so that the implementation of current policies and practices is reassessed. As well as, parents/guardians and CYP’s perceptions need to be explored to complement teachers’ perceptions and lead to the development of educational practices based on the stakeholders’ experiences.


View the full paper here:


Participants needed for a study on educators’ wellbeing.

Researchers and students at the Department of Psychology are conducting research into the factors promoting and otherwise affecting the wellbeing of education professionals specifically during this phase of the covid-19 pandemic (Ethics ID:34613). Via an anonymous, short survey, gaining the views of a wide range of education professionals nationally we aim to provide the Department of Education and the whole community of education with an evidence-based perspective on what is working well in schools to support staff wellbeing.

To contribute please forward the following link to any friends/family/contacts involved with teaching and learning (senior leaders, teachers, support staff and all other educational professionals) in primary or secondary schools in the UK

If you have any questions or comments please contact us at

Your support with this research would be greatly valued.

COVID-19: Should psychologists know how to deal with this?

Mental health psychology practitioners (MHPPs) are likely to experience stress related to the responsibilities of their role as it exposes them to other people’s traumatic life experiences, a phenomenon called “vicarious traumatisation”. This refers to the emotional and cognitive disruptions faced by therapists, as they engage in therapeutic relationships with survivors of traumatic events. During times of excessive stress, such as the COVID-19 pandemic, it is important to examine the factors that might enhance coping skills and resilience in this group of professionals, as their role in fighting off the negative psychological effects of COVID-19 is crucial. The term “resilience” refers to a group of factors that promote positive mental health and well-being in individuals exposed to threatening conditions, traumatic experiences, or severe adversity.

In a study conducted in the UK by researchers at BU (Dr Constantina Panourgia, Dr Ala Yankouskaya, Dr Agata Wezyk, and Miss Zoe Taylor) in collaboration with University of West London and UCLy in Lyon, participants were invited to talk about their reality, including the effects of vicarious traumatisation on their well-being and strategies they employed to sustain positive mental health and demonstrate resilience.

According to the MHPPs who participated in the study, the pandemic affected them and their clients in different ways. Frequent occurrence of relationship violence, the effects of unemployment, suicide attempts, loneliness, and increased use of alcohol were among the topics their clients highlighted as factors affecting their stress and well-being. Also, the unavailability of stress relief strategies that people usually employed rendered MHPPs’ roles in supporting their patients more vital than ever. However, many of them perceived this as an extra burden and reported feelings of inadequacy and anger. Sleeplessness, flashbacks of their clients’ stories, helplessness, vulnerability, identification with patients’ fears, as well as a tendency to question their abilities as practitioners, were among the symptoms MHPPs experienced.

The MHPPs who participated in this study also reported several mechanisms they employed to maintain positive well-being and develop resilience during these unprecedented times. The importance of frequent, systematic supervision sessions was described as the key factor affecting their well-being and helping them set boundaries between their personal and professional lives. Moreover, practising yoga, meditation, and mindfulness were described as useful tactics in building stress resilience, along with taking up new hobbies and avoiding social media. Finally, seeking social support, having self-awareness, and being able to manage their emotions were reported as key factors in helping them distinguish among their different roles (parents, friends, and therapists) and perform their duties.

The need to train and prepare MHPPs for situations that can be described as collectively traumatic was highlighted by this study’s results. The development of strategies and follow-up care programmes to alleviate the symptoms of vicarious traumatisation might help this group of practitioners develop resilience and be less susceptible to occupational risks, resulting in better outcomes for service users.

For more details: