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Consultant psychiatrists' experience of the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on mental health services

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journal contribution
posted on 24.03.2022, 12:59 authored by E. Kelleher, E. H. Geary, M. Tawfik, E. Ní Mhuircheartaigh, B. Gavin, M. Wall, John LyneJohn Lyne, A. M. Doherty, F. McNicholas
Objectives: The novel coronavirus 2019 (COVID-19) has spread worldwide threatening human health. To reduce transmission, a 'lockdown' was introduced in Ireland between March and May 2020. The aim of this study is to capture the experiences of consultant psychiatrists during lockdown and their perception of it's impact on mental health services.
Methods: A questionnaire designed by the Royal College of Psychiatrists was adapted and circulated to consultant members of the College of Psychiatrists of Ireland following the easing of restrictions. The questionnaire assessed the perceived impact on referral rates, mental health act provision, availability of information technology (IT), consultant well-being and availability of personal protective equipment (PPE). Thematic analysis was employed to analyse free-text sections.
Results: Response rate was 32% (n = 197/623). Consultants reported an initial decrease/significant decrease in referrals in the first month of lockdown (68%, n = 95/140) followed by an increase/significant increase in the second month for both new (83%, n = 100/137) and previously attending patients (65%, n = 88/136). Social isolation and reduced face-to-face mental health supports were among the main reasons identified. The needs of children and older adults were highlighted. Most consultants (76%, n = 98/129) felt their working day was affected and their well-being reduced (52%, n = 61/119). The majority felt IT equipment availability was inadequate (67%, n = 88/132). Main themes identified from free-text sections were service management, relationship between patients and healthcare service and effects on consultants' lives.
Conclusions: The COVID-19 pandemic has placed increased pressure on service provision and consultant wellness. This further supports the longstanding need to increase mental health service investment.

History

Comments

The original article is available at https://www.cambridge.org/

Published Citation

Kelleher E, et al. Consultant psychiatrists' experience of the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on mental health services. Ir J Psychol Med. 2021:1-13.

Publication Date

29 April 2021

PubMed ID

33910665

Department/Unit

  • Psychiatry

Publisher

Cambridge University Press

Version

  • Published Version (Version of Record)