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Improving Mental Health and Economic Resilience during the COVID-19 Pandemic




14: Economics

Faculty Supervisor:

Frank Schilbach

Faculty email:


Apply by:

May 5, 2020


Frank Schilbach (fschilb@mit.edu) and Hannah Ruebeck (hruebeck@mit.edu).

Project Description

This project aims to answer two questions: (1) whether online mental health therapies meaningfully protect and improve the mental health of the US population during the COVID-19 pandemic, and (2) whether improved psychological wellbeing translates into meaningful economic benefits. To do so, we will run an RCT involving low-income workers, recruited either using nationally-representative online panels or in partnership with a large employer or non-profit partner. We will study whether subsidizing and incentivizing the take-up of online psychotherapy in our sample can increase usage of such services and whether increased take-up reduces depression, anxiety, and other forms of mental ill-health. Furthermore, we will investigate whether reductions in depression and anxiety translate into workers’ improved capacity to recover from the crisis as measured by efforts in job search and (re)training, and by increased employment and earnings. The UROP will work with our team to design and implement the experiment and to collect and analyze the data.


Most important for us is a strong motivation and enthusiasm, as well as attention to detail. Understanding of RCTs, econometrics, and programming skills are preferred. Please send a brief paragraph describing your interest and relevant experience, as well as your CV/resume as well as an (unofficial) grade report to Frank Schilbach (fschilb@mit.edu) and Hannah Ruebeck (hruebeck@mit.edu).