Press Statement: Continued Support, Flexibility and Guidance Needed for those with Mental Illness and Neurodevelopmental Conditions during Coronavirus Outbreak
Vulnerable groups with mental illness and neurodevelopment conditions need extra guidance, support and flexibility in how services and treatments are delivered in these extraordinary circumstances, highlights the College of Psychiatrists of Ireland. It is vital that people with these conditions continue to engage with their mental health practitioners and services during this Coronavirus outbreak period.
Covid-19 is stressful for all of us. The combination of uncertainty, risk of serious illness and social isolation poses challenges for all of us, but particularly for those with existing mental illness. The HSE and other groups have excellent guidance and reminders for all on how to look after their mental health and manage anxiety, emotions and behaviour in this unfamiliar and distressing time.
The College of Psychiatrists is acutely aware of the additional impact these times are having, and will have, on those who live with mental illness and neurodevelopment conditions as well as on their families, loved ones and carers.
Treatment and support are still imperative for many but may be delivered in a different way when necessary to comply with the Covid1-19 practices that minimise the spread and damage of the virus.
Dr Maeve Doyle, Director of Communication and Public Education for the College points out,
‘It is essential that people with mental illness continue to connect with their mental health service and practitioners for appointments, planned necessary supports and for additional support and advice, particularly when the Covid-19 situation is causing exacerbation of their symptoms and worsening of their condition.
Many children and adults with neurodevelopmental conditions such as Autism, those with ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder), OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder) and Tourette’s Syndrome, may find the Covid-19 public health restrictions particularly challenging and could see a worsening of anxiety and OCD symptoms’.
She also noted that,
‘People with Anxiety Disorders, Depression and Psychosis for instance, may be particularly affected by the increased stress and concern around the pandemic as well as restrictions of social isolation and other recommended behaviours’
Dr Doyle stressed that
‘The most important message is that Mental Health Services continue to operate. Many Mental Health Services and individual mental health professionals have already adapted their method of delivery of support. Many are using telephone contact, some are using video consultation and some are still carrying out face to face appointments but with the necessary social distancing and other Covid-19 practices in place’.
The College has developed a Covid-19 section on its website with updates for members and psychiatry trainees as well as a general section on useful resources for health practitioners and the general public.
The College urges people to take the advice from the WHO (World Health Organisation) in their ‘Mental health and psychosocial considerations during the COVID-19 outbreak’ document which is particularly helpful for certain vulnerable groups.