Mental Health Challenges for Spring 2021

This forum is to discuss general things concerning TSOI.
Posts: 2696
Joined: Fri Jun 26, 2020 5:22 am

Mental Health Challenges for Spring 2021

Post by trader32176 »

Mental health challenges associated with COVID-19 lockdown in spring 2020

10/29/20 ... -2020.aspx

(Back to the past for background info)

This brief is a summary of the policy brief prepared in the context of the Swiss national COVID-19 science task force ( While the COVID-19 pandemic and its associated public health measures keep evolving, reviews of previous infectious disease outbreaks leading to quarantine and early evidence in the current context are brought together to discuss the following issues: What is the impact of the spring 2020 lockdown on the mental health of the population? How was the Swiss population affected by the lockdown? What should be done to respond to mental health challenges associated with COVID-19 lockdown?

The impact of the lockdown measures on the mental health of the population

Public health measures associated with the COVID-19 pandemic are likely to have important mental health consequences, for the whole population and specific vulnerable categories.
A range of possible effects are discussed in the literature, they include: boredom, social isolation, stress, sleep deprivation, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder, negative mood, depression, suicidal or addictive behaviours, and domestic violence (Mengin et al. 2020). These consequences are likely to be extended in time and might even peak after the pandemic cases (Gunnell et al. 2020). This calls for a close examination of the benefits of the public health measures against their short- and long-term psychological costs (Brooks et al. 2020).

The long-term impact of the pandemic might particularly affect suicide (Gunnell et al. 2020). Increased cases of death by suicide have been reported in the United States during the 1918-19 influenza pandemic and in Hong Kong, especially among elderly people, during the severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) epidemic in 2003 (Cheung, Chau, and Yip 2008). In the context of the COVID-19 lockdown, depression, anxiety and possibly post-traumatic stress, all well-known risk factors for suicide, might have developed among the population with no prior mental health problems and worsened among individuals with psychiatric vulnerabilities (Gunnell et al. 2020). Employment loss and financial stress resulting from the lockdown, as well as domestic violence and alcohol consumption, expected to be on the rise, could contribute to increasing the suicide risks.

Social isolation, entrapment, and loneliness exacerbated by the lockdown represent additional risk factors for suicide (Gunnell et al 2020).

Evidence collected in previous similar circumstances, namely outbreaks which led to quarantine, particularly emphasize the adverse psychological consequences of such circumstances on health workers (Brooks et al. 2020). Findings collected in the context of the 2003 SARS outbreak indicate that staff who had been quarantined after potential contact with infected patients reported more negative mental health outcomes compared to staff who had not been quarantined, but also compared to the quarantined general population (Brooks et al. 2020). In the COVID-19 context, the poorer mental health of health workers documented in Wuhan, China is attributed to a range of factors, including risks of infection with inappropriate protection, physical and emotional fatigue, isolation and limited contact with families (Kang et al. 2020).

Concerns about children's mental health conditions have been voiced. It is known that in non-school periods (over the weekend and during holidays) children accumulate health risk behaviours such as being less physically active, spending more time on screens, having less regular sleep patterns and poorer diets (Wang et al. 2020). All these are likely to have been reinforced during the confinement measures, especially since children and adolescents could have no or only limited outdoor activities.

Due to their heightened COVID-19 vulnerability, the elderly have been defined as a group at risk with recurrent official recommendations asking them to stay at home. Mental health consequences have been discussed in the context of elevated preexisting depressive symptoms, notably in the context of China (Rajkumar 2020) and social isolation (Morrow-Howell, Galucia, and Swinford 2020). Capacities to connect with others, especially family members, depended on technological skills; in an optimistic fashion, the COVID-19 context is presented as an opportunity for improving such skills among older adults (Morrow-Howell, Galucia, and Swinford 2020).

Attention to the impact of the COVID-19 lockdown on the mental health of international migrants workers has also been raised (Liem et al. 2020). This population presents pre-existing mental health difficulties and limited access to healthcare that have been further impacted by the COVID-19 crisis. In addition to difficulties to access adequate information, undocumented workers have particularly missed social protection towards loss of employment since in several contexts, including Switzerland, domestic work has not been included in the governmental economic measures.

The situation in Switzerland

The Swiss Corona Stress Study was put in place early in the crisis to evaluate how the population was adapting to the pandemic (de Quervain et al. 2020). The objectives were to assess how subjective stress levels and depressive symptoms were affected by the lockdown, to explore underlying factors and to identify potential stress-protecting behaviors. The study was conducted online. More than 10'000 individuals living in Switzerland participated in the first wave over a period of 3 days, starting 3 weeks after lockdown. A second wave with 10'000 participants was conducted over the phase of lockdown loosening between May 11 and June 1, 2020.

In the first wave, 24% of the participants reported no change in stress levels, but 50% declared an increase in stress levels during lockdown as compared to the time before the COVID-19 crisis. Several sources contributed to people feeling more stressed during the lockdown, they included the burden related to changes at work or school, problems with childcare or the burden of not being able to spend more time with others.

The changes in stress levels were highly correlated with changes in depressive symptoms. The prevalence of moderately severe or severe depressive symptoms increased from 3% before the corona crisis to 9% during lockdown, of which 20% did not complain about depressive symptoms before the crisis. Prevalence of daily suicidal thoughts raised from 0.8% before the corona crisis to 1.5% during lockdown.

Of note, 26% of all participants showed a decrease in stress levels, which was related to feeling relieved by the lockdown-related changes, and feeling confident to overcome this crisis well. Furthermore, the study identified some behaviors that were associated with a lower incidence of stress, including physical activity, devoting more time to a hobby or a new project and consuming less coronavirus-related news.

In the second wave of data, anxiety levels had decreased as compared to wave 1, but stress levels and depressive symptoms were comparable. The prevalence of moderately severe or severe depressive symptoms remained high (12%) during the loosening period.

The findings of the Swiss Corona Stress Study revealed that the psychological reactions to the pandemic crisis and the countermeasures are very diverse, ranging from an important increase in distress and depressive symptomatology among some to a lockdown-related decrease in stress levels for others. Being older, male and having no prior psychiatric condition protected against the development of depressive symptoms.
What should be done to mitigate mental health consequences of the COVID-19 lockdown?

Strategies to reduce the COVID-19 lockdown impact on mental health are needed, they should be targeted towards the whole population while providing specific support for vulnerable groups, notably health workers, those with psychopathological vulnerabilities, and the elderly (Holmes et al. 2020; Brooks et al. 2020). Considering the association observed in the past between the duration of quarantine and poor mental health, it is recommended to keep confinement as short as possible (Brooks et al 2020). In addition, past research showed that voluntary confinement and emphasis on altruism, rather than compulsion, is less detrimental to mental health (Brooks et al 2020). This suggests that the federal strategy adopted in Switzerland, as compared to other countries, might have reduced the mental health burden of the crisis.

To respond to the expected psychological consequences of the COVID-19 lockdown, some preventive measures can be put in place to improve well-being, minimize mental health impact and suicide risks (Gunnell et al. 2020; Holmes et al. 2020). Specific emphasis is put on on-line or digital resources and interventions, offering mental health education and emotion regulation strategies, counselling and self-help services (Holmes et al. 2020; Rajkumar 2020).

To alleviate the stress associated with the COVID-19 crisis, the provision of regular, easily accessible, and transparent information is considered crucial. At the same time, it is acknowledged that media communication can fuel anxiety and online communication technologies contribute to disseminate contradictory information and misinformation (Gunnell et al. 2020; Holmes et al. 2020). Their impact on mental health should thus also be monitored.

In order to assess the mental health impact of the COVID-19 crisis and to develop appropriate interventions, evidence on these outcomes among the general population and vulnerable groups needs to be gained (Holmes et al. 2020). It is notably important to monitor the dynamic of psychological consequences, with research following individuals over the successive stages of the crisis, ideally using multiple methods bringing converging evidence with self-reported, behavioral, and physiological measures. Existing cohorts offer particularly important opportunities to set up such monitoring, longitudinal data allowing to document the evolution of mental health before, during and after the lockdown. Setting up new dedicated studies specifically designed to test the mental health effects of the COVID-19 crisis is however also important.

The LIVES Centre offers a large range of opportunities for the monitoring of the mental health consequences of the COVID-19 crisis, through the efforts its researchers have already initiated and will continue to develop, looking at the COVID-19 impact over different stages of the life course and as a result of difficulties encountered across life domains.


Swiss Centre of Expertise in Life Course Research - LIVES
Posts: 2696
Joined: Fri Jun 26, 2020 5:22 am

Re: Mental Health Challenges for Spring 2021

Post by trader32176 »

Covid-19’s Toll on Mental Health

The coronavirus pandemic, with all of its stressors, has triggered anxiety, depression, and other disorders

9/15/20 ... al-health/

When Covid-19 caused businesses to send employees home to work remotely, Ashima Bhayana was relieved. The 32-year-old customer success specialist at a Chicago health tech company had struggled at times to “be around colleagues, to put on a brave face” on days when her clinical depression flared. At first, working from home felt like a much-needed break.

However, that soon changed.

“With each passing month, it’s gotten harder because of the isolation,” says Bhayana, who has fought depression for 10 years and lives with her husband and a rescue pup. She misses her colleagues, especially those with whom she had recently begun to form friendships after seven months on the job. The loss of her work routine also has upset her sleep and exercise schedules — both key to her wellness. And she’s been anxious about the virus. “I’m like, oh my God, I don’t want to get Covid-19.”

Bhayana is not alone in having Covid-19 fears exacerbate a pre-existing mental health condition. Each week since late April, about a third of Americans have shown symptoms of anxiety or depressive disorders during the previous week, according to the National Center for Health Statistics. Locally in Chicago, mental health providers say they are seeing more patients with stress, anxiety, depression, and other disorders, either brought on or worsened by the virus and its consequences.

Some of those most affected are healthcare workers and other first responders who have experienced the stress of caring for coronavirus patients — an overwhelming job, given the spiraling number of cases and deaths.

People who have lost loved ones are struggling with grief, while others are mourning other types of loss: of contact with family and friends; of jobs or income; of a sense of security about the world, given the virus’s unpredictable path.

Struggling through

“The pandemic and all of the stressors that have happened with it have triggered new illnesses of anxiety and depression,” says Soo Lee-Samuel, MD, a child and adolescent psychiatrist at Rogers Behavioral Health, which provides mental health and addiction services across the United States. People with existing or previous illnesses also have been affected.

While Lee-Samuel’s caseload has remained about the same, patients are showing more serious mental health symptoms, she says. “Everyone’s struggling more and more. Everything that the pandemic has touched has caused a ripple effect in the stress that people are feeling.”

Some people who were previously in recovery also have been experiencing a resurgence of anxiety, depression, trauma, eating disorders, and substance abuse and have needed to pursue treatment again, Lee-Samuel adds.

Stressors include new rules about social distancing, along with mixed messages about what is and isn’t safe. Should you always wear a mask? Can

you get sick from visiting the grocery store? Is walking along a crowded lakefront path safe? The “new normal” Covid-19 has imposed has changed lives while also raising questions, fears, and stress. Even more worrisome to many is what may lie ahead — what Lee-Samuel calls the “unexpected unknowns.”

“How are things going to look several weeks from now? Several months from now? Several years from now? A lot of it is the uncertainty and not knowing,” she says. And uncertainty leads to “a lot of the anxiety people are feeling.”

Healthcare worker burden

Healthcare workers have been on the front lines of the pandemic, working with patients throughout the various phases of the crisis. But, like everyone else, they are not immune to the increased burden of anxiety and stress.

Christopher McCarthy, 33, a licensed professional counselor for AMITA Health, leads and participates in virtual peer support groups for staff. These sessions, he says, have helped him deal with his own virus-sparked anxiety. Other group members include physicians and nurses who have felt the impact of being on the pandemic’s front lines.

One nurse reported seeing “whole families pass away from the virus,” he says. Many were overwhelmed by the load of critical patients during the first phase of the pandemic. Another reported crying in the car before and after going into work.

About 100 such peer support groups attended by 750 AMITA providers, associates, and leaders had been held as of mid-July, says Clifton Saper, PhD, lead psychologist and director of behavioral clinical services at AMITA Health. Saper says over 40% of AMITA’s healthcare workers experience problems such as anxiety, depression, family conflict, irritability, exhaustion, trouble eating and sleeping, and increased substance use.

“Healthcare workers tend to be self-critical and think they should be superhuman,” Saper says. “They don’t allow themselves to be aware of or feel the anxiety that everybody feels. I’m often saying to them, ‘It’s okay to be not okay. We’re all in this together. We’re all feeling anxiety.’”

Lindsay Fazio, PhD, a psychologist with NorthShore University HealthSystem, supports physician well-being and says she has observed “a spike in anxiety conditions” among staff. Some have been furloughed and had shifts in job responsibilities. Many may be caring for patients who they don’t typically care for, or they have transitioned to work from home, which can cause or heighten domestic strains.

In addition, Fazio says, some health workers have developed obsessive-compulsive behaviors focused around trying to keep themselves safe and decontaminated. “Front-line workers — our nurses and other workers caring for hospitalized patients — have developed rituals around showering and hygiene,” she says. These rituals provide physical safety and also psychological comfort.

A study earlier this year of doctors and nurses treating Covid-19 patients in China found half reported symptoms of depression and 44% symptoms of anxiety. During the 2003 SARS outbreak, hospital workers had a higher risk of post-traumatic stress disorder, and experts anticipate an increase because of Covid-19 as well.

“I think we’ll see quite a bit of it,” Fazio says. “Right now, we’re seeing an acute stress reaction,” with symptoms such as insomnia and appetite changes.

To help, NorthShore instituted procedures to navigate staff through the tough times, especially staff at Glenbrook Hospital, which was the system’s dedicated Covid-19 hospital for several months. They hosted virtual support groups, held qigong meditation sessions, and encouraged walks outside the hospital and retreats to a private respite room, which had an iPad loaded with meditation apps.

Youth losing support

McCarthy from AMITA Health counsels students from kindergarten to 12th grade at five Chicagoland schools, with sessions switched to virtual once the coronavirus closed campuses. In spring, three kids had their conditions worsen during the crisis to the point that they had to be hospitalized for suicide risk, he says.

Other students grappled with lack of structure and the “everyday supports” school had provided, such as routines, teachers, and friends. Some could not adapt to virtual learning and found it stressful. He says those who were graduating high school were upset over the “lack of closure for their school careers,” missing traditions like signing yearbooks and saying goodbye to friends.

Children with special needs, such as autism, also have been affected by the loss of much-needed in-person programs, classes, therapies, and other interventions, Lee-Samuel says. “These can be difficult and challenging to do virtually. We’re seeing a lot of our kids in this patient population who are really struggling and falling apart at home, which is very stressful for parents, too.”

Children with special needs, in particular, benefit from in-person therapies to help with social skills, speech issues, and physical coordination, Lee-Samuel says. “They also need very structured days. [Covid-19] has upended this and has taken away what was previously organized and understandable for these kids.”

Some children with autism also have anxiety and mood disorders, she says, and are experiencing more agitation and depression.

Eating disorders, which primarily (though not exclusively) affect young people 18 to 24, are also on the rise due to Covid-19, says Steven Prinz, MD, regional medical director at Eating Recovery Center and Insight Behavioral Health, which has several locations in Chicago and the surrounding area. Due to social distancing requirements, most inpatient facilities have stayed open but restricted the number of patients and visitors. Outpatient psychiatric facilities have closed, cut back on-site services, or modified overnight services.

People “feel like their lives are out of control with Covid-19,” which causes them to try to control their eating even more — resulting in increased anorexic or bulimic thoughts and behaviors, Prinz says.

People who already have “an intense fear of gaining weight” are not helped by social media messages warning about the “Covid-15” weight gain during quarantining, Prinz says. Going into grocery stores can also be traumatic, especially if “the ‘correct’ foods they are comfortable with” are not available due to Covid-related shortages, he adds.

Left behind

The compounding effects of Covid-19 are disproportionately impacting Chicago’s underserved communities. Access to mental health care is always a concern, but it’s even more tenuous during the pandemic.

In May, Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot presented $1.2 million in mental health funds to four city health organizations serving the South and West sides to help people affected by Covid-19 and added $9.3 million to the city’s budget for mental health services at existing clinics.

Still, Chicago is uniquely underserved when it comes to mental health, says Ronald Wuest, MD, chair of psychiatry and behavioral neurosciences for DuPage Medical Group. Many of the city’s psychiatrists don’t accept insurance or only accept a limited number of insurance carriers, he says — an issue reflected nationwide.

“Providers tend to be polarized toward well-insured individuals or the indigent. But it’s that middle range of people” who may have trouble finding help, he says.

Services are available, but many people don’t realize this, or they find it stigmatizing to seek help, says José Viruet, clinical director of behavioral health for Erie Family Health Centers, a federally qualified health center with 13 locations in the Chicago area. About 70% of Erie’s clientele are people of color — primarily Latinx and Black, Viruet says. For these populations in particular, there is a “huge stigma regarding mental health care” to overcome, he says. Also, many simply don’t know where or how to get services.

Yet even with people not realizing where to turn, behavioral health visits for anxiety, depression, grief, and other issues have doubled at Erie since Covid-19 started, Viruet says. As a result, the centers have added mental health staff.

Some people are experiencing symptoms for the first time and don’t know what they mean or how to handle them, Viruet says. “We get a lot of people experiencing panic attacks, and they don’t know what to do and they don’t know where to go.”

Lee-Samuel worries that, as numbers of people needing mental health care continue to rise, there may not be enough professionals available, especially in more rural areas outside the city.

The protests following the death of George Floyd have presented another layer of unknowns, stresses, and anxieties. “Everyone I talk to is having more nightmares, more underlying anxiety,” Lee-Samuel says. “I tell my patients to try to get through it one day at a time. We’re all trying to make the best of it.”

Making the best of this discomfort will take time. “The current cultural climate is becoming more and more politicized, and we feel it in how we talk about race, how we approach Covid, and how to decide when or if we return our children to schools,” Lee-Samuel says. “This uncertainty in how to manage day-to-day activities has set a new baseline of anxiety and dread as we try to navigate our lives.”

Seeking help

When individuals reach out for mental health care, that counseling is looking different than it ever has before.

Social distancing requirements have meant most counseling is now done virtually. This has helped provide more access to services, especially for those who lack transportation, therapists say. Despite the challenge of virtual visits, counselors are making connections with patients in new ways.

However, finding a private place to hold a session while quarantined at home — especially if living in small quarters with other people — can be a challenge. Lee-Samuel says she has conducted sessions with patients who connect with her from their cars, basements, or relatives’ homes.

Fazio has one patient who likes to walk and talk, so both Fazio and her patient sometimes go outside, in separate locations, and conduct the session on their phones while walking. “It’s quite lovely,” she says, noting that movement can help some people open up emotionally.

Other benefits from video therapy include getting to see a patient in their home setting, which can provide insight into their lives, Fazio says.

On the other hand, Saper has had some supposedly private meetings Zoom-bombed by uninvited visitors. Plus, technology can sometimes falter, with missed or slowed connections.

Indeed, not all patients have internet or smart devices available or know how to master video chat technology. Older people, for example, tend to prefer audio-only telephone calls, which means the clinician loses the ability to see the person’s face as they respond or process feelings.

If there is a thread of hope, it’s in the sense of community that some feel, which has arisen through shared suffering. Saper has found for the first time,

patients routinely ask him how he is doing.

“They’re showing empathy and concern, which you don’t expect from patients who are troubled,” he says. “Yet, I think the pandemic — because we’re all in the same boat — has made everybody more compassionate with each other and concerned for each other’s well-being and health and safety, which is really encouraging.”

Meanwhile, for Ashima Bhayana, the uncertainty continues. Her workplace may open for in-person work again in October. Or it may not. Or only for some employees. Nobody yet knows.

Either way, Bhayana continues to go to virtual teletherapy sessions, work from home, find comfort in playing with her dog, and hope for recovery — hers and the world’s.
Posts: 2696
Joined: Fri Jun 26, 2020 5:22 am

Re: Mental Health Challenges for Spring 2021

Post by trader32176 »

Among other college courses offered, is a class on digital mental health : ... ring-2021/

An exploration of current research and theory on tech-based prevention and intervention programs for psychological disorders. Students investigate the burgeoning field of digital mental health
, examine the evidence-base of specific digital mental health programs, engage in critical analysis of relevant literature comparing in-person to digital mental health services, and consider ethical issues for current tech-based programs including privacy and accessibility. Experiential learning is emphasized through student testing of app-based mental health promotion programs and the generation of research proposals for new app-based mental health tools.
Posts: 2696
Joined: Fri Jun 26, 2020 5:22 am

Re: Mental Health Challenges for Spring 2021

Post by trader32176 »

Rise in negative health behaviors during lockdown connected to poor mental health in Scotland

11/4/20 ... tland.aspx

A rise in negative health behaviors - such as lack of sleep, exercise and an unhealthy diet - is connected to poorer mental health during the tightest restrictions of Scotland's COVID-19 lockdown, a new study has confirmed.

Research conducted on 20 May 2020 and led by University of the West of Scotland (UWS), in partnership with Glasgow Caledonian University (GCU), has concluded that these changes contributed to a higher negative mood and that maintaining, or even improving, health behaviours in a lockdown situation is key to sustaining positive mental health.

The study, funded by the Chief Scientist Office (CSO), also found a link between increased alcohol consumption when living with children, and a poorer diet if the person's working status had been affected by COVID-19.

" When the Scottish Government instigated the initial societal lockdown in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, many subsequently experienced significant lifestyle changes, alongside the stresses of potentially catching the virus or experiencing bereavement."

- Dr Joanne Ingram, Lecturer, School of Education and Social Sciences, University of the West of Scotland

"We know that stressful situations and poorer health behaviours, such as higher alcohol consumption, unhealthy diet, poorer sleep quality and physical inactivity are frequently linked to poor mental health; however, our objective was to examine changes in health behaviours and their relationship with negative mood during the COVID-19 lockdown."

The study found that:

Increased alcohol consumption was linked to living with children, but not to negative mood.
Poorer diet was linked to more-negative mood, and to changes to working status. Those who had changed their work status due to the COVID-19 pandemic reported that their diet had become unhealthier.
Poorer sleep quality was linked with more-negative mood, and with 'shielding' from the virus. Shielding was the only COVID-19-related factor which was associated with changes in sleep quality.
Being less physically active was related to more-negative mood and student status, with those studying full-time seeing a greater reduction in their physical activity.
Being more physically active was linked to having or suspecting COVID-19 infection within the household. Households where COVID-19 had been experienced or suspected were associated with increasing their physical activity.

Dr Joanne Ingram added: "This study adds to reports on poor mental health during lockdown and identifies lifestyle restrictions and changes to health behaviours which may be responsible for higher negative mood. Our data suggests that it is advisable to maintain or improve health behaviours during pandemic-associated restrictions, which is important to highlight whilst restrictions are on-going."

Dr Christopher Hand from the Department of Psychology at Glasgow Caledonian University, said: "While we found a relationship between negative change in health behaviours and higher negative mood, our results weren't all doom-and-gloom.

We saw that large numbers of people were able to make healthy changes during lockdown, and these positive changes were associated with better mental health outcomes."


University of the West of Scotland

Journal reference:

Ingram, J., et al. (2020) Changes in Diet, Sleep, and Physical Activity Are Associated With Differences in Negative Mood During COVID-19 Lockdown. Frontiers in Psychology.
Posts: 2696
Joined: Fri Jun 26, 2020 5:22 am

Re: Mental Health Challenges for Spring 2021

Post by trader32176 »

Survey: 1 in 3 adults are experiencing worsening levels of stress, loneliness and anger due to COVID-19

11/10/20 ... ID-19.aspx

Preliminary results, relative to the UK, from the largest worldwide study into the mental and physical impact of COVID-19 reveal that about one in three adults are experiencing worsening levels of stress, loneliness and anger during the pandemic.

Additionally, when asked about their altruistic behavior – aiding neighbors and others in need – nearly one fifth reported improvement, although more than half said their behavior had not changed in this area during the pandemic say experts from the University of Southampton, the lead UK institution for the global survey.

Researchers from more than 100 countries are involved in COH-FIT - ‘Collaborative Outcomes study on Health and Functioning during Infection Times’ - which has collected so far data from more than 105,000 people around the world on their mental and physical wellbeing, access to care and coping strategies, during and after the pandemic.

The project collects anonymous information on adults and, with parental consent, adolescents and children aged six years or oder. In addition to asking about the participants’ physical and mental health status, the survey also collects data on demographics, professional status and environmental factors. Internationally, COH-FIT is led by the Zucker School of Medicine at Hofstra / Northwell in New York, Charité – Universitätsmedizin in Berlin and the University of Padua in Italy.

Samuele Cortese, Professor of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry at the University of Southampton and Consultant Child and Adolescent Psychiatrist with Solent NHS Trust, who is leading the UK section of the survey, and his colleagues across the UK have collected results from just over 2,000 respondents but are appealing for more to take part. Those interested in participating can access the anonymous survey at

" The approach we are taking will help us learn more about the risk to people’s mental and physical health as a result of the pandemic, as well as possible protective factors. It’s very important that we encourage as many people as possible to take part in the survey as the results will inform health policies in the UK and internationally after the pandemic is over, including what actions could be taken to help those most affected should other pandemics arise."

- Samuele Cortese, Professor of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, University of Southampton

"In terms of participens in the survey, the UK is currently behind a number of countries, such as Italy, with more than 10,000 respondents, and Germany, with more than 8,000, so we need more people to go online and complete the survey to ensure that the country is well-represented and contributing in much larger numbers," he added.

To date, most of the UK respondents are aged between 29-51, although the survey is open to anyone over the age of 6 or more. Overall, more women (75%) have participated in the UK so far.

Regarding the specific data available so far results in the UK section of the survey, one-third of the respondents reported worsening in their own stress levels, while about one in seven reported improvement before the corona crisis and the last two weeks. Some 40% of women reported more stress worsening than men. Whilst there are no large differences in stress worsening (or improvement) between young and middle-aged adults, about 25% of elderly respondents also reported worsening in stress.

To counter this, the most effective coping strategies reported were direct personal contact or interactions, exercise or walking internet use, meaningful hobbies and media use. Around one-third said they found that keeping informed about COVID-10 through social media and remote social interactions served as good coping mechanisms with studying or learning something new, working on-site or from home, spending time with a pet and physical intimacy or sexual activity also proved successful.

In terms of loneliness, one-third reported worsening with women reported more loneliness worsening than men with around 50% of young adults reporting worsening in loneliness. Older adults reported a slightly higher worsening compared to middle-aged adults.

For anger, almost one third of women reported worsening and were, once again, higher than men in this area. Worsening in anger was much higher in young adults and somewhat higher in middle-aged adults compared to the elderly.

COH-FIT respondents have also been asked about their satisfaction with the government. In the UK, around one in six (17%) were satisfied with government policy with the vast majority – nearly 70% - saying they were neither happy or unhappy. There were no differences between gender or age groups in answering this question but there was a significant decrease in satisfaction starting at age 30.

A high proportion (80%) of respondents reported an increase in spending hours with the media. Women had a slightly higher proportion of increasing hours of media use compared to men with young and middle-aged adults experiencing a higher proportion of increased hours with media compared to older adults.

The findings will be presented nationally and internationally to the scientific community, with the aim of helping to develop targeted interventions for persons at particularly high risk.

Those interested in taking part can access the anonymous survey at
Posts: 2696
Joined: Fri Jun 26, 2020 5:22 am

Re: Mental Health Challenges for Spring 2021

Post by trader32176 »

Workers experiencing job and financial insecurity are less likely to follow COVID-19 guidelines

11/10/20 ... lines.aspx

Workers experiencing job and financial insecurity are less likely to follow the CDC's guidelines for COVID-19, such as physical distancing, limiting trips from home and washing hands, according to a Washington State University study.

The researchers, who surveyed 745 workers in 43 states, also found that state unemployment benefits and COVID-19 policies affected the connection between economic concerns and compliance with COVID-19 precautions.

The study shows that a scarcity mindset can play a role in how well people are able to focus on responding to the pandemic, said Tahira Probst, a WSU psychology professor and lead author in the study published recently online in the Journal of Applied Psychology.

" We all have a finite set of resources at our disposal, whether it's money, time or social support, and individuals who have fewer of those resources appear less able to enact the CDC-recommended guidelines."

- Tahira Probst, Study Lead Author and Psychology professor, Washington State University

"The extent to which economic stressors will impact that behavior is in part a function of where we live. Having a fall back, a strong safety net to catch you, seemed to help mitigate the risk factors of job insecurity that was otherwise associated with less adherence to the guidelines."

In states with lower unemployment benefits, job insecurity was associated with a 7% decline in compliance with COVID-19 prevention behaviors.

State-imposed COVID-19 mandates also had a positive effect on compliance but seemed to primarily benefit the financially secure workers more.

In states that had fewer restrictions on behavior that could spread the disease, workers were less likely to follow the CDC's recommendations, whether the respondents were financially secure or insecure.

However, in states with a stronger response, including measures such as stay-at-home orders and shutting down non-essential businesses, financially secure employees had 13% higher enactment of the prevention behaviors compared to workers who felt more financially insecure.

These differences could have significant public health ramifications, the authors argue, since research suggests that even modest reductions in social contacts among adults can reduce infection and eventual death rates.

"It's important to acknowledge as a society that there are certain segments of the population, namely the economically secure, that are better equipped to follow the CDC recommendations to prevent the spread of COVID-19," said Probst.

"This is a red flag since precarious work and financial strain can also co-occur with other COVID-19 risk factors and pre-existing health disparities."
Posts: 2696
Joined: Fri Jun 26, 2020 5:22 am

Re: Mental Health Challenges for Spring 2021

Post by trader32176 »

Increasing long-term well-being during the pandemic with interventions

11/17/20 ... tions.aspx

Interventions increase the chances of succeeding in changing and maintaining a new behavior in the long run. This is showed in a recently published study from CTF, Service Research Center at Karlstad University.

" Interventions are about promoting a behavioral change with targeted programs or services. The study shows that health-promoting interventions are effective ways to increase well-being and reduce mental illness. Changing a behavior and thereby breaking old habits is difficult, but sometimes necessary - especially when it comes to health, which many have experienced during the current pandemic."

- Frida Skarin, Doctoral Student in Psychology and main author of the article

Increased chances of successfully introducing and keeping new habits

Increased well-being through mandatory health-promoting interventions - is it possible? This was the question the researchers started out with when conducting a field study among university students who during six weeks implemented a health-promoting activity in their everyday lives, for example meditating or exercising.

The purpose was to investigate how motivation and belief in the intervention affect the behavior change and well-being, and how a mandatory intervention affects behavior change and well-being both in the short and long run.

"Generally it is common to succeed in implementing behavior change with the help of interventions during the time of the intervention. But to succeed in keeping the new behavior and turning it into a new habit is more uncommon - which we saw in the study where a large number of participants volitionally continued their intervention-generated behaviors after the intervention was completed. We also saw a continued increase in well-being among the participants who continued the new behavior," says Frida Skarin.

Important to experience increased well-being during the intervention

The study shows that those who maintained the changed behavior experienced an increased well-being during the intervention.

"The chances of maintaining the changed behavior, to make it a habit, increases if you have a positive experience during the intervention period. This means that the design of the intervention is of great importance."

A way to reduce mental illness during the pandemic

Many people are experiencing the corona pandemic adaption as not good for their mental health. Mental illness, which was increasing before the pandemic, is increasing even faster now, says Frida Skarin. Interventions, similar to the ones in our study, if carried out correctly with relatively simple means, could help people to implement positive behaviors in their daily lives to increase their well-being. This would benefit individuals, organizations and society at large.

What tip can you give to someone who wants to change a behavior?

"Since motivation and belief are crucial, a good tip is to read about positive health-promoting activities and their impact on your well-being. The next step is to make a clear plan, and then it's time to start introducing the new behavior. It is also important to make notes of the new behavior and the progress to keep track of what you actually are doing and to see the improvement which will encourage you to continue."
Posts: 2696
Joined: Fri Jun 26, 2020 5:22 am

Re: Mental Health Challenges for Spring 2021

Post by trader32176 »

Nature experiences may help mitigate negative mental health effects of COVID-19

11/18/20 ... ID-19.aspx

A study published in Ecological Applications suggests that nature around one's home may help mitigate some of the negative mental health effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.

An online questionnaire survey completed by 3,000 adults in in Tokyo, Japan, quantified the link between five mental-health outcomes (depression, life satisfaction, subjective happiness, self-esteem, and loneliness) and two measures of nature experiences (frequency of greenspace use and green view through windows from home).

More frequent greenspace use and the existence of green window views from the home were associated with increased levels of self-esteem, life satisfaction, and subjective happiness, as well as decreased levels of depression and loneliness.

Our results suggest that nearby nature can serve as a buffer in decreasing the adverse impacts of a very stressful event on humans. Protecting natural environments in urban areas is important not only for the conservation of biodiversity, but also for the protection of human health."

Masashi Soga, Ph.D., Lead Author, The University of Tokyo
Posts: 2696
Joined: Fri Jun 26, 2020 5:22 am

Re: Mental Health Challenges for Spring 2021

Post by trader32176 »

New website provides a unique way for families to connect during lockdown

11/25/20 ... kdown.aspx

Social isolation and loneliness have affected many people during the Covid-19 pandemic, especially those with limited access to digital technology.

Now a new website, developed by academics at Northumbria University, is providing a unique way for families and friends to connect during lockdown.

The 'Togather' website supports groups of family or friends to transform their WhatsApp conversations into a story booklet for a loved one who may be isolated.

They are provided with topics and prompts to keep them busy and message about, allowing them to share their thoughts, photos, memories and experiences.

Using the Togather online tool they can then transform their WhatsApp group chat into a booklet- which they can either print off and share with their loved one or download and email to them.

Researcher Linnea Groot is one of the team behind Togather and explains how the project was inspired by a story from Holland at the start of the pandemic.

" We saw an article on the Dutch news where a family whose relative was in intensive care kept a diary and gave this to her when she was discharged from the hospital.They wrote down what happened to her while she was in the ICU, but also what happened in the world outside, weather forecasts, some news items, and things the family had done."

- Linnea Groot, Researcher, Northumbria University

"We thought this was a really nice idea and wanted to make something to support other people going through this kind of experience.

"We realise that being separated from family and friends can leave you feeling powerless, and hope that getting together as a group to engage with these topics and activities provides a space to draw strength from each other.

"Togather is a really simple but effective way to make shared memories together, with your loved one at the centre of it all."

The topics given are designed to be fun, whilst also getting the group thinking about themselves and their loved one in different ways.

Example questions include:

Share your favourite memory of you and your loved one and/or group.
Document something you experienced / saw / heard today that surprised you, or made you think of your loved one or this group.
Try one of their hobbies today and capture yourself doing it, how did it work out for you?
Try to match your outfits today in the favourite colour of your loved one.

The privacy and security of users has been carefully considered in the design of the platform. Messages and media files collected in a WhatsApp group chat remain on the user's device and are never shared or stored by Togather.

The team behind Togather are part of an existing research project called Enabling Ongoingness, which explores how physical objects and digital media can help people maintain lasting bonds with loved ones after they die.

A large part of this is exploring how people curate their relationships with family members and friends through different media, stories, objects and rituals in everyday life.

Following the Covid-19 outbreak this research took on a new meaning, with families forced to separate and many sadly losing loves ones unexpectedly to the disease.

As Linnea Groot explains: "During the Covid-19 pandemic we have all been faced with a new global shared experience - the fear of loss and grief. It is unlike anything that many of us have experienced before and has undoubtedly changed our lives in many ways.

"Through Togather we hope that we can help people capture those community bonds in an innovative way at a time when connections with other people are harder than ever before."
Posts: 2696
Joined: Fri Jun 26, 2020 5:22 am

Re: Mental Health Challenges for Spring 2021

Post by trader32176 »

Monash project aims to address post-pandemic mental health challenges of teenagers

11/27/20 ... agers.aspx

A Monash University project will look at reducing the long-term risk of adolescent mental health problems by enhancing parents’ ability to support their children throughout the pandemic.

A digital mental health project led by researchers from the Faculty of Medicine, Nursing and Health Sciences and the Faculty of Information Technology, received a 2020 COVID-19 Mental Health Research Grant from the Medical Research Future Fund to support parents of adolescents.

Drawing upon evidence-based parenting practice, the project aims to address the challenges that parents and teens face during the global pandemic, and other unforeseen events.

The researchers hope this project will empower parents and enhance their capacity to safeguard their child’s mental health and wellbeing during disruptive events in the future.

While young people are largely spared from the direct negative effects of COVID-19 on physical health, they do have an increased risk of mental health issues as a result of disruptions to their normal social development, education and family life.

Moreover, the financial, social and mental health impacts of COVID-19 on parents can significantly compromise their ability to provide appropriate care, further aggravating potential mental health issues in their children.

Project lead, Associate Professor of Psychology Marie Yap from the Turner Institute, says in order to provide preventive interventions for parents that are low cost, scalable and self-sustaining, direct input from parents is needed.

" This research will collect insights from parents through online peer support interactions to help inform and apply an extension to an existing evidence-based parenting program, Partners in Parenting (PiP), which has already been proven to reduce the risk of common mental health problems in adolescents. By rapidly adapting content and providing peer support to respond to the context-specific needs of COVID-19, the adapted program PiP-Plus has the potential to reduce the mental health impacts of COVID-19 on many Australian families.”

- Marie Yap, Project lead, Associate Professor of Psychology, Turner Institute

This project will provide the necessary support to parents with context-responsive, rigorously-developed COVID-relevant parenting advice and integrated online peer support, delivered via the PiP-Plus platform.

Professor Patrick Olivier, from the Action Lab, Faculty of IT, says this research aligns with the Federal Government’s mental health reform agenda on empowering families and carers who support youth living with or at risk of mental health issues.

" This project offers an adaptable and rapidly responsive service to address the emerging mental health challenges currently experienced as a result of COVID-19. By establishing a mechanism to collect data on mental health challenges currently experienced by parents and rapidly responding to these through PiP-Plus, the project is developing an approach that continuously adapts to the experiences and needs of parents and children. The digital delivery of the platform also facilitates broader outreach and care to particularly vulnerable groups of parents with adolescent children, such as those from lower socio-economic backgrounds and those located in rural and remote communities.”

- Patrick Olivier, Professor, Action Lab

This research will also have further applications in other traumatic or disaster events across the globe, in which psychological distress can be impacted.


Monash University
Post Reply