A position paper has been published in The Lancet that details the reforms necessary to deliver sustained, efficient, and equitable mental healthcare after COVID-19.
In this position paper, an international group of clinicians, mental health experts, and users of mental health services came together to discuss the challenges for mental health posed by the COVID-19 pandemic. Lockdown and social distancing, economic issues, and uncertainty about the course of the pandemic have increased the risk of mental health problems, particularly among individuals with pre-existing mental ill health, and exacerbated health inequalities. Although efforts have been made to adapt the delivery of mental healthcare to the demands of COVID-19, preliminary findings suggest that the pandemic has had an adverse effect on mental health across many sections of society.
Mental health services have been adapted to focus on infection control, access to diagnosis and treatment, continuity of care, and the identification of populations at risk and new cases of mental ill health. Going forward, the authors state that ‘Sustainable adaptations of delivery systems for mental health care should be developed by experts, clinicians, and service users, and should be specifically designed to mitigate disparities in health-care provision’, and that the pandemic may represent an opportunity to instigate change.