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COVID-19: Can we prevent a mental health crisis?

The coronavirus pandemic is likely to have a widespread impact on the mental health of our society. In a new paper, published in the Lancet Psychiatry [23.30 Wednesday 15 April], researchers called for urgent action to be taken now to prevent a mental health crisis.

24 experts came together to write the paper, which gives a research roadmap to help keep us mentally healthy through the pandemic, in an unprecedented rapid response coordinated by the Academy of Medical Sciences and MQ.

Journalists dialled in to the SMC to hear from four authors of the paper, who were answering questions including:

  • Could the pandemic result in an increase in suicide, addiction, self harm and abuse? What can we do about this?
  • What could be the long term impact of the pandemic for our mental health?
  • What action do the UK government and research funders need to take now to avert a mental health crisis?
  • How can we help boost people’s resilience to mental ill health during periods of isolation and lockdown?
  • What does new survey and poll data tell us about how the public feel the crisis will affect their mental health?
  • What, if anything, do we know about the way the virus affects the brain?
  • How can we help those with serious mental health conditions access support?
  • What will happen is we don’t act now to support mental health?


Speakers included:

Prof Emily Holmes, Department of Psychology, Uppsala University; Department of Clinical Neuroscience, Karolinksa Institutet

Prof Ed Bullmore FMedSci, Head of Department of Psychiatry, University of Cambridge

Prof Rory O’Connor, Professor of Health Psychology, University of Glasgow

Prof Matthew Hotopf FMedSci, Vice Dean of Research at the Institute of Psychiatry Psychology and Neuroscience

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