About the series
Experts from around the world share their lived experience of the impact of COVID-19 on mental health services and community wellbeing. This series was presented by Centre for Mental Health Research, VIDEA, and ConNetica Consulting.
Capturing early experiences of the impact of COVID-19 on mental health
By Marita Linkson
ANU Centre for Mental Health expert Professor Luis Salvador-Carulla and John Mendoza from ConNetica Consulting embarked on an ambitious international webinar series to learn first-hand about the global impact on mental health from those in countries first-affected.
On the cusp of our Australian lockdown, the two co-hosts zoomed into action to share early experiences of the impact of COVID-19 on mental health services and community wellbeing in Europe, the United Kingdom, Denmark, Taiwan, USA and Australia. The ambitious project saw eight webinars delivered over four weeks in April.
The series centered on countries with varied impacts ranging from a highly successful contention of the outbreak such as that of Taiwan to those more significantly impacted (at the time) such as Spain, Italy and the UK. Over 500 people attended the events in real-time, and by the end of May, the webinar recordings had been accessed more than 1,300 times.
Early insights highlighted advantages of being ready, having universal healthcare, having remote access to healthcare and social support services, and having a prepared and rehearsed pandemic plan. Slow responses led to services being overwhelmed, and the virus spreading faster.
Professor Salvador-Carulla said, ‘Even then, all regions were anticipating unprecedented demand for mental health services post lockdown, and the need for vigilant suicide watch.’
Important learnings included protecting mental health care providers with access to and training in the use of PPE (Personal Protective Equipment), finding new ways to provide care, such as through telehealth, and having special supports in place for vulnerable groups, such as children with neurodevelopmental disorders (Boston).
The series ended with a Roundtable of Australian experts reflecting on what helps and hinders mental healthcare in a pandemic and considering opportunities for rethinking longer term ongoing mental healthcare.