The coronavirus COVID-19 and the global pandemic has already had a substantial disruptive impact on society, posing major challenges to the provision of mental health services in a time of crisis, and carrying the spectre of an increased burden to mental health, both in terms of existing psychiatric disorder, and emerging psychological distress from the pandemic. In this paper we provide a framework for understanding the key challenges for psychologically informed mental health care during and beyond the pandemic. We identify three groups that can benefit from psychological approaches to mental health, and/or interventions relating to COVID-19. These are (i) healthcare workers engaged in frontline response to the pandemic and their patients; (ii) individuals who will experience the emergence of new mental health distress as a function of being diagnosed with COVID-19, or losing family and loved ones to the illness, or the psychological effects of prolonged social distancing; and (iii) individuals with existing mental health conditions who are either diagnosed with COVID-19 or whose experience of social distancing exacerbates existing vulnerabilities. Drawing on existing literature and our own experience of adapting treatments to the crisis we suggest a number of salient points to consider in identifying risks and offering support to all three groups. We also offer a number of practical and technical considerations for working psychotherapeutically with existing patients where COVID-19 restrictions have forced a move to online or technologically mediated delivery of psychological interventions.
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- Digital therapy
- Psychological interventions