Fiorillo A, Gorwood P. Eur Psychiatry. 2020


Fiorillo A, Gorwood P. The consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic on mental health and implications for clinical practice. Eur Psychiatry. 2020 Apr 1;:1-4. doi: 10.1192/j.eurpsy.2020.35. [Epub ahead of print] PubMed PMID: 32234102.

There is a wide consensus that the COVID-19 pandemic not only affects physical health, but also mental health and well-being [1,2]. The current pandemic is changing priorities for the general population, but it is also challenging the agenda of health professionals, including that of psychiatrists and other mental health professionals [3]. Everywhere in the world, psychiatric clinics are modifying their practice in order to guarantee care and support to persons with mental health problems, but also to those who are not mentally ill and are suffering from the psychosocial consequences of the pandemic. The number of those who will need psychiatric help is going to increase in the next weeks or months, requiring a reconsideration of our current practices. From a psychopathological viewpoint, the current pandemic is a relatively new form of stressor or trauma for mental health professionals [4]. It has been compared with natural disasters, such as earthquakes or tsunamis [5]. But in those cases, the emergencies are usually localized, limited to a specific area and to a given time; people know that they can escape, if they want to or if they have the possibility to do so [6]. It has also been compared with wars and international mass conflicts. But in those circumstances, the enemy is easily recognizable, while in pandemic the “threat” can be everywhere and it can be carried by the person next to us [7].

We consider that the mental health and psychosocial consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic may be particularly serious for at least four groups of people: (a) those who have been directly or indirectly in contact with the virus; (b) those who are already vulnerable to biological or psychosocial stressors (including people affected by mental health problems); (c) health professionals (because of higher level of exposure); and (d) even people who are following the news through numerous media channels.

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