The Covid-19 pandemic has provided a challenging time for everyone. It has impacted the mental health of many, and will continue to have an impact on mental health for years to come. Some evidence suggests that the pandemic has disproportionately impacted young people, women and those who have previously suffered from mental health problems (Yarington et al 2021; Iob et al., 2020; Rens et al 2021).
EACLIPT has been monitoring the situation in Europe since the start of the pandemic. Since EACLIPT members come from all over Europe, the organization aims to provide a synthesis of different approaches to the pandemic used in Europe, and reflect on how national policies adopted by different countries may have impacted differentially on mental health of citizens and provision of treatments.
EACLIPT will report to the European Parliament, with the aim of influencing their stance on the impact of psychological interventions. The current situation also offers the opportunity to ensure that evidence-based psychological interventions are on the agenda of policy makers, who are in a position to ensure that psychological therapy is available to those who need it.
We need to implement established interventions for mental health problems and mental health conditions, conduct high quality research investigating efficacy of adapted interventions (e.g., blended therapy – online and in person) and develop new interventions to ensure clients receive effective treatments. A lot of research focuses on covid-related incidence, however new research needs to identify effective interventions; tailor existing evidence-based interventions to new situations (i.e., online; blended therapy), adapting treatment to the current needs of those suffering from mental health problems, and developing novel evidenced based interventions.
Online therapy, though with its challenges (e.g. setting up certain behavioral experiments), offers an opportunity to engage potential clients who may have been reluctant or unable to do face to face therapy in a classic setting in high income countries, as well as those in low and middle income countries (Aminoff et al., 2021; Fu et al., 2020).
There have been clear implications of the pandemic for clinicians - for many that they provided therapy online, working from home, or in clinic with Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and other COVID-19 related changes have caused challenges in implementation of interventions. There has been an impact on psychologist’s roles within teams, their ability to engage in peer support and need for creative ways to ensure they continue professional development.
With adaptations to treatment in mind, we need to hear the voices of recipients of this therapy and identify what they want and need going forward (e.g. choice in face to face and video based sessions).
National psychologist organisations’ Covid-related statements and information from European Countries:
Also, please see the United Nations Policy Brief.
Aminoff, V., Sellén, M., Sörliden, E., Ludvigsson, M., Berg, M., & Andersson, G. (2021). Internet-based cognitive behavioral therapy for psychological distress associated with the Covid-19 pandemic: a pilot randomized controlled trial. Frontiers in Psychology, 12, 684540.
Fu, Z., Burger, H., Arjad, I. R., Bockting, C. L. H. (2020). Effectiveness of digital psychological interventions for mental health problems in low-income and middle-income countries: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Lancet Psychiatry, 7(10), 851-864. 10.1016/S2215-0366(20)30256-X.
Iob, E., Frank, P., Steptoe, A., & Fancourt, D. (2020). Levels of severity of depressive symptoms among at-risk groups in the UK during the COVID-19 pandemic. JAMA network open, 3(10). https://doi.org/0.1001/jamanetworkopen.2020.26064
Rens, E., Smith, P., Nicaise, P., Lorant, V., & Van den Broeck, K. (2021). Mental distress and its contributing factors among young people during the first wave of COVID-19: a Belgian survey study. Frontiers in Psychiatry, 12, 35. https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyt.2021.575553
Yarrington, J. S., Lasser, J., Garcia, D., Vargas, J. H., Couto, D. D., Marafon, T., ... & Niles, A. N. (2021). Impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on mental health among 157,213 Americans. Journal of Affective Disorders, 286, 64-70. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jad.2021.02.056