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PERSPECTIVE/VIEWPOINT - GLOBAL
Year : 2020  |  Volume : 2  |  Issue : 2  |  Page : 77-83

The Need for a Public Mental Health Approach to COVID-19


1 South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust, London, UK
2 Pakistan Psychiatric Research Centre, Fountain House, Lahore, Pakistan; President Elect, World Psychiatric Association, Geneva, Switzerland
3 Department of Epidemiology and Public Health, UCL, London, UK

Correspondence Address:
Dr. Jonathan Campion
Director for Public Mental Health, South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust, London SE5 8AZ
UK
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None


DOI: 10.4103/WSP.WSP_48_20

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Mental disorder is responsible for at least 20% of global disease burden which COVID-19 is likely to increase. Effective public mental health (PMH) interventions exist to treat mental disorder, prevent associated impacts, prevent mental disorder from arising and promote mental wellbeing. However, implementation is poor with only a minority with mental disorder receiving treatment even in high-income countries, far fewer receiving interventions to prevent associated impacts, and negligible coverage of interventions to prevent mental disorder or promote mental wellbeing. There is an urgent need to address this implementation failure which contravenes the right to health, results in broad population scale impacts and preventable suffering, and is further amplified by COVID-19. PMH practice including during COVID-19 can prepare for and address the implementation gap in the following ways: assessment of size, impact, and cost of the current and future PMH intervention implementation gap taking into account COVID-19; estimation of impact and associated economic returns from improved coverage of PMH interventions; use of this information to inform national policy and transparent decisions about acceptable levels of national coverage of different PMH interventions which then informs level of provision, required resource and commissioning; operationalization of intervention implementation nationally and locally; evaluation of coverage and outcomes; and communication to the population and different professional groups. Coverage of PMH interventions can be increased including during quarantine/lockdown through appropriate professional training, improving population knowledge, digital technology, settings and integrated approaches, maximizing existing resources and application of relevant legislation. PMH practice should be an integral part of the response to COVID-19.


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