This week we will be discussing a highly relevant article titled, Mental Health Strategies to Combat Psychological Impact of COVID-19 Beyond Paranoia and Panic. This paper was published just last week in the journal ANNALS Academy of Medicine, Singapore. While the content throughout the article is often specific to Singapore, it is clear that this information can and should be generalized to other affected countries.

Within the paper, authors Ho, Chee, and Ho, highlight the most common psychological impacts resulting from global health outbreaks, and offer suggestions based on empirical research regarding how we can combat these effects.

Today’s blog will be a bit different than our past blogs. Instead of discussing the study methodology, we are going to summarize the author’s conclusions and discuss the current relevance.

First, and most importantly, this paper very clearly demonstrated how global health pandemics exert a significant impact on the mental wellbeing of generally everyone involved. The authors of this study highlight that the strengthening of our psychological defense to COVID-19 will aid nations while they continue to battle with various repercussions associated with the COVID-19 outbreak.

To assist in this psychological defense, the authors suggest avenues of provision of coordinated psychological intervention and suggest strategies that nationwide governments could adopt to improve their current intervention system. Here are the 6 critical areas of focus indicated by the authors:

  1. Identification of High-risk Groups
  2. Improved Screening of Psychiatric Morbidities
  3. Mode and Content of Psychological Intervention
  4. More Support for Frontline Health Workers
  5. Accurate Dissemination of Health and Related Information to Public
  6. Integration of Hospital and Community Resources.

Accomplishing all of the aforementioned recommendations is important - but also quite challenging to complete quickly and at scale. At a time like this, time is of the essence. So the question is, how can we begin tending to the inevitable rise in mental health problems throughout the population without having to wait for large systematic changes? We think the answer here could be quite clear: technology.

Currently, millions of people are quarantined in their homes with fairly limited knowledge about the existence of mental health resources. Even if people wanted to seek care and were aware of a local provider, many people are fearful about exposure to the COVID-19 virus. This is keeping people in their homes. But, there is something many of these people have in common...the majority of them have access to some form of technology, connecting them to the internet. In fact, it’s estimated that over 70% of Americans own a computer/laptop, and over 80% now have access to a smartphone.

Delivering mental health assessments and necessary interventions directly through these modalities seems to be a strong solution that could be accomplished now. At a time where hospital-based providers are immersed in battling this global pandemic, delivering self-guided assessments and interventions through technology appears to present a strong solution to help everyone in need.


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