The COVID-19 pandemic looks set to create a mental health crisis affecting young people in the UK, and experts at Swansea University Medical School are finding out how best to deal with it.
The Adolescent Mental Health Data Platform (ADP), led by Prof Ann John, Professor in Public Health and Psychiatry based in Population Data Science at Swansea University Medical School, has been researching the impact of COVID-19 to help build an evidence base to support young people during and after the epidemic.
The ADP team has conducted surveys and reviewed published evidence on the psychological, social, and neuroscientific effects of COVID-19. Prof John is also part of an expert panel convened by the UK Academy of Medical Sciences and the mental health research charity, MQ.
Their study aims to identify the immediate priorities and the longer-term strategies which will be needed.
Prof Ann John said:
“There is a real need to understand and to act in a way that will make a difference to the effects of COVID-19 on young people’s mental health. At the moment most of our understanding comes from convenience surveys that are unlikely to represent the experience of all young people. We need multidisciplinary research to understand how the pandemic and the measures taken to curb it have affected young people’s mental health and behaviours such as alcohol and drug use, online gambling, and cyberbullying. We need to use that understanding to deliver effective solutions in new ways, evaluating our activities as we go along.”
They have established three needs:
- Collect high-quality data on the mental health effects of the pandemic across the whole population, and specifically vulnerable groups, and on the brain function, cognition, and mental health of patients with COVID-19.
- Research to address how mental health consequences for vulnerable groups can be mitigated under pandemic conditions.
- Establish a high-level coordination group to ensure that these research priorities are addressed, and to allow new priorities to be identified over time.
The research will help by:
- Informing responses to future infection waves or pandemics by identifying mechanisms (e.g. coping strategies and preventive interventions) to support vulnerable groups during pandemics;
- Identifying interventions that can be delivered under pandemic conditions to reduce mental health issues and boost wellbeing;
- Keeping individuals informed while preventing over-exposure and mitigating the effect of viewing traumatic content;
- Providing ways to promote more successful adherence to behavioural advice about COVID-19 while enabling mental wellbeing and minimising distress.
The team’s work continues on several fronts. As well as building new relationships with stakeholders to overcome the issues associated with COVID-19, they are sharing their findings with policymakers in education and healthcare, with health practitioners’ groups, and with the public through virtual activities in collaboration with mental health networks such as Emerging Minds to help young people and their families.
Ongoing ADP COVID-19 research also includes:
- COVID-19 Project with Mental Health Foundation, Cambridge, Strathclyde and Belfast Universities – a collaboration to study the effects of social and economic stresses of COVID-19 on mental health.
- SAIL-TAC suicide, self-harm and mental health – using routinely collected data in Wales to investigate these phenomena in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
- COVID-19 Self Harm and Wellbeing Survey – to learn more about the impact of COVID-19 on the mental health of young people.
For more information about the Adolescent Mental Health Data Platform, visit website https://adolescentmentalhealth.uk/
Related Twitter Post