Rea Michalopoulou

Thesis title: Child and Adolescent Understanding of COVID-19 and its Impact on Mental Health: A Novel Virtual Reality (VR) Assessment Tool for Mental Health


I started my academic journey at the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki (AUTh) in Greece where in 2019 I completed a First-Class Honours Bachelor of Education (BEd Hons) in Early Childhood Education and Teaching. During my bachelor's studies, I immersed myself in the psychology world which then led me to move to Edinburgh. In 2020, I joined the School of Health in Social Science and completed the MSc in Psychology of Mental Health (Conversion) with distinction. For my master's dissertation, I explored young people's understanding of COVID-19. This project sparked my interest in illness perceptions and played a pivotal role in the design of my PhD project.


MSc (Distinction) in Psychology of Mental Health (Conversion), University of Edinburgh, UK

BEd (1st Class-Hons) in Early Childhood Education and Teaching, Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Greece

Responsibilities & affiliations

Member of the British Psychological Society (GMBPsS)

Research summary

Worldwide scientific associations are warning of the long-term mental health effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on younger populations.

My PhD aims to (1) expand the theoretical understanding of children and adolescents illness perceptions. This could be utilised generally for psychoeducation and designing developmentally appropriate policies during future pandemics, (2) add to the fragmented knowledge clinical psychology holds about the way anxiety disorders relevant to physical health appear in children and adolescents. This could eventually provide a guide for designing more developmentally appropriate assessments and interventions, (3) lead to the creation of a novel VR instrument for assessing mental health in younger populations, contributing to a new era of highly person-centred, evidence-based clinical practices, (4) Investigate if the COVID-19 pandemic has long term mental health effects on the younger generation. This will be helpful for early interventions in the case of similar disease outbreaks.

Current research interests

illness perceptions; mental health; psychological assessment; virtual reality; children; adolescents; clinical psychology; developmental psychology; health psychology

Affiliated research centres

Current project grants

The Onassis Foundation Scholarship-Awarded for the duration of my PhD

Conference details

Hoelterhoff, M., Johnston, S., Ajeet Gokani, H., Michalopoulou, R. E., Leyland, E. L. (2022). Personal Values in Postgraduate University Student Engagement: A Creative Participatory Action Research Project. 2022 Porto 31st International Conference On “Literature, Social Sciences and Education” (PLSSE-22). - Oral Presentation - Awarded "Best Session Paper"

Michalopoulou, R. E., Williams, J. M., Ding, R. (2021). Young People's Understanding of COVID-19. BPS Scottish Branch 2021 Postgraduate Research Day. - Oral Presentation of master’s dissertation