The University of Macau (UM) said a statement on Thursday that four articles on mental health care during the current novel coronavirus (COVID-19) epidemic written by its research team led by Prof Xiang Yutao from the Faculty of Health Sciences (FHS) have been published in the latest editions of British medical journals The Lancet and Lancet Psychiatry.
The Lancet is widely considered the oldest and most influential journal in the medical field. Founded by an English surgeon in 1823, The Lancet is a weekly peer-reviewed general medical journal named after the two-edged surgical instrument called a lancet, a kind of scalpel.
The four articles are titled ‘Timely Mental Health Care for the 2019-nCoV Outbreak is Urgently Needed’, ‘Online Mental Health Services in China during the COVID-19 Outbreak’, ‘Mental Health Services for Older Adults in China during the COVID-19 Outbreak’, and ‘Timely Research Papers about COVID-19 in China’.
According to the statement, the articles suggest that the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak has presented great challenges for China in terms of mental health services.
The articles suggest that timely and sufficient psychological interventions should be provided for different sub-populations in need, pointing out that compared to the traditional face-to-face psychological intervention, online mental health interventions, including hotline services, were more appropriate, more flexible, and safer during the epidemic.
The statement said that people from different classes of society in many countries, China in particular, are all under great pressure since the COVID-19 outbreak late last year which is believed to have started in Wuhan, capital of Hubei province.
However, the articles point out that mental health services for those affected by the epidemic were under-addressed during the early stages of the epidemic. Against this backdrop, Prof Xiang and his team called for timely mental health care for pneumonia patients, health workers, and the general public.
According to the statement, one of the articles underlines that since the outbreak of the disease, both patients and health professionals have been vulnerable to mental health problems, such as fear, anxiety, depression, insomnia, frustration, and feelings of isolation. Thus, timely mental health care should be provided for patients with COVID-19 pneumonia, their close contacts, and people in suspected cases who are isolated at home, patients in fever clinics, families and friends who are affected, health professionals caring for infected patients, and other members of the public who are in need.
According to the statement, the article stresses that the development and implementation of systematical mental health assessment, support, treatment, and services are critical and pressing goals for mental health response to COVID-19.
Due to the increasing need of non-face-to-face mental health services for the ongoing COVID-19 epidemic crisis, Prof Xiang’s team and their collaborators in Guangzhou assessed different types of mental health services provided in China during the COVID-19 epidemic, concluding that the need for online services could facilitate the implementation of emergency mental health interventions, according to the statement.
In another article, according to the statement, Prof Xiang’s team highlights that special attention should be paid to elderly people belonging to the vulnerable high-risk population segment because most of them are not able to benefit from the various authorities’ online services due to their limited access to the internet and smartphones.
In addition, Prof Xiang’s team points out in the article that since the COVID-19 outbreak, many of the academic articles about the disease have been published in English-language journals. In order to remove language barriers, the research community should make an effort to disseminate the research findings related to the novel coronavirus epidemic in Chinese among frontline health workers who need to understand the epidemiological and clinical features of the disease.
(The Macau Post Daily/Macau News)
PHOTO © University of Macau