Translating science into policy: mental health challenges during the COVID-19 pandemic
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Several stressors associated with the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) are expected to affect the mental health of global populations: the effects of physical distancing, quarantine, and social isolation; the emotional suffering of health and other frontline workers; neuropsychiatric sequelae in those affected by the virus; the impact to families of lives lost to the disease; differential effects for those with severe mental disorders; and the consequences of social and economic deterioration. In this context, we sought: to form a panel of Brazilian experts on child and adolescent health, neurodevelopment, health services, and adult and elderly mental health; and to compile evidence-based interventions to support suggested policy changes in Brazil to mitigate the expected increase in mental health disorders during the pandemic and its mental health consequences. The following actions are recommended: 1) invest in prevention programs for the safe return of students to schools; 2) adopt evidence-based psychosocial interventions to maintain an adequate environment for child and adolescent development; 3) target socially vulnerable populations and those experiencing discrimination; 4) train primary care teams to solve common mental health problems, provide needs-based assessments, and manage long-term, at-home care for older patients; 5) invest in technological advancements (e.g., telemedicine, e-Health, and web-based algorithms) to promote coordinated care; 6) increase access to and literacy in the use of computers and mobile phones, especially among older adults; 7) expand protocols for remote, brief psychotherapy interventions and psychoeducation to manage common mental health problems.
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