The global outbreak of COVID-19 has had many far-reaching consequences. These consequences include uncertainty and unpredictability, physical distancing, lockdowns, and other control strategies to prevent the virus from spreading, as well as economic collapse. Concern for the mental health impact this would all have on the general public, let alone those with pre-existing mental illness, has generated much research around the topic and how mental illness medication management has changed.
What research is showing
Research usually involves long-term studies. Hence, since reports of the first case of Covid-19, much research on the mental impact is in its preliminary stages. However, that research has already shown that the Corona Virus has increased the risk of, and increase in, mental health issues in previously healthy people. Studies have also discussed mental illness management during these challenging times.
In November 2020, researchers in Germany published a study in the Psychiatry Research journal: “Lockdown, quarantine measures, and social distancing: Associations with depression, anxiety, and distress at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic among adults from Germany.” Given the dramatical disruption of everyday lives, the nation-wide study investigated the role of COVID-19 and sociodemographic-related factors in the immediate mental health consequences among adults. Their focus on the cognitive effects of different levels and forms of restriction for public health measures (e.g., stay-at-home orders and quarantine) showed increases in depression and anxiety symptomatology, loneliness, health anxiety, fearful spells, perceptions of life-satisfaction, and psychosocial distress. The authors concluded that their findings emphasize accurate official risk announcements and targeted mental health advice, particularly for susceptible groups in these demanding times.
Another study published by ResearchGate in April 2020 forecasted an “Increased Risk of Suicide Due to Economic and Social Impacts of Social Distancing Measures to Address the Covid-19 Pandemic.” The authors write that given the unprecedented increase in national and global social isolation and unemployment, predicting resultant suicide rates can give information about the potential ramification on mental health and the support that might be needed. They forecast that the possible global increase in suicides could reach 50,000 individuals. As such, they call for funding, policy, and interventions to tackle the pandemic’s mental health effect.
Mental health care changes
In response to the pandemic’s mental and emotional impact, global health systems have adapted mental health care services, treatment, and diagnosis to meet demand, but with a focus on controlling the spread of the virus.
Mental Health America (MHA), a leading U.S. nonprofit dedicated to tackling mental illness patients’ needs and promoting overall mental health, have listed the options now available to ensure continued access to treatment and medications during Covid-19. Access to psychiatric medications and medication management is critical for many patients, and suddenly stopping to take prescription meds or stopping therapy can have severe consequences. Today, doctors are willing to fill prescriptions online or via telephone and even provide 90-day supplies rather than 30 for chronic medication users. Psychiatrists and therapists offer video-based or telephone sessions; most pharmacies remain open during lockdowns and provide delivery services. Some organizations are offering financial support to cover the costs of medications; and more.
Instead of venturing out and taking risks of being infected, OmeCare has developed a range of self-administrating DNA testing kits. The results and recommendations provide physicians and their patients with personalized genetic health advice to create more tailored healthcare plans. The company’s genetic medication efficacy testing for antidepressants and mental health medications is one pertinent example. Given the increases mentioned above in mental illness due to Covid-19, patients may be prescribed antidepressants. The in-depth DNA test analyzes the patient’s genetic sensitivities to a range of mental health medications, thus eliminating the guesswork and typical trial-and-error of finding what meds work best and speeding up the process of finding a suitable treatment plan.
Also crucial for our current situation is OmeCare’s at home Covid-19 test. The out-of-the-box at home Covid test kits offer state agencies, schools, colleges, and employers a ready-to-use solution to ensure students and staff’s well-being and safety. The test does not require health care provider supervision for collection, making it a perfect example of ways to adapt mental illness medication management during Covid-19.