Lucy Prior

Lucy Prior is a Midlands4Cities funded PhD student at the Institute for Mental Health, University of Birmingham. Her research focusses on anxiety in UK youth. 

PhD research

Explaining the Youth Anxiety Epidemic: Towards a New Social Theory of Anxiety. 

The UK is currently facing a youth anxiety epidemic, where there has been an 8.3% rise in anxiety disorders in 16-24 year-olds since 2000, 5.2% higher than any other generation in society (APMS NHS 2014). This PhD aims to explain why this is the case.

 To do this, the thesis begins with an assessment of the distinct usages of the term ‘anxiety’ across the fields of philosophy, psychology and psychiatry. Having defined anxiety, Lucy then argues that a key feature of anxiety regards the preoccupation with the legal, moral and social standards we hold ourselves to. With the rise of social media, it seems that we can no longer control whether we can maintain these standards online. Therefore, Lucy seeks to determine whether there is a strong correlation between the use of social media and anxiety rates in UK young people. To achieve this, she will undertake empirical research, providing questionnaires to a sample of 16-24 year-olds, assessing their anxiety levels and time spent on social media platforms. By doing so, she aims to explain this youth anxiety epidemic. 


Professor Lisa Bortolotti 

Professor Matthew Broome 


Before joining the University of Birmingham, Lucy obtained an MA in Philosophy from Sheffield University. Prior to this, Lucy studied at Queen’s University Belfast where she obtained her BA in Philosophy. 

Research interests

Youth anxiety and general youth mental health

Cognitive science

Social media

Conceptions of beauty