In a recently article with Lancet Psychiatry, mental health professionals from China, Hong Kong and Australia reflected on some practical strategies for timely mental health care for the 2019 novel coronavirous outbreak.
Read the full article here: https://www.thelancet.com/journals/lanpsy/article/PIIS2215-0366(20)30046-8/fulltext
In any biological disaster, themes of fear, uncertainty, and stigmatisation are common and may act as barriers to appropriate medical and mental health interventions. The key methods of developing urgent mental health capacity in the system were summarised as:
- First, multidisciplinary mental health teams established by health authorities at regional and national levels (including psychiatrists, psychiatric nurses, clinical psychologists, and other mental health workers) should deliver mental health support to patients and health workers. Specialised psychiatric treatments and appropriate mental health services and facilities should be provided for patients with comorbid mental disorders
- Second, clear communication with regular and accurate updates about the 2019-nCoV outbreak should be provided to both health workers and patients in order to address their sense of uncertainty and fear. Treatment plans, progress reports, and health status updates should be given to both patients and their families.
- Third, secure services should be set up to provide psychological counselling using electronic devices and applications (such as smartphones and WeChat) for affected patients, as well as their families and members of the public. Using safe communication channels between patients and families, such as smartphone communication and WeChat, should be encouraged to decrease isolation.
- Fourth, suspected and diagnosed patients with 2019-nCoV pneumonia as well as health professionals working in hospitals caring for infected patients should receive regular clinical screening for depression, anxiety, and suicidality by mental health workers. Timely psychiatric treatments should be provided for those presenting with more severe mental health problems.