Mental Health and Behavioral Guidelines for Preparedness and Response to Coronavirus and Other Emerging Infectious Outbreaks.
Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences. Center for the Study of Traumatic Stress.
Published: March 2020
Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences
4301 Jones Bridge Road
Bethesda, MD 20814
This brief explains several global infectious disease outbreaks, such as the COVID-19 pandemic, can help inform psychological and behavioral responses to these events as well as appropriate interventions. The impact of crisis and disaster events on mental health is discussed, including the following factors that impact community distress: fear of infection, concerns about adequate supplies, efficacy of prophylactic and treatment medications, and the emergence of pathogens. The vulnerability of front-line health workers to negative mental health effects of treating outbreak victims is also noted. It is explained that in anticipation of significant disruption and loss, promoting health protective behaviors and health response behaviors will be imperative, and areas of special attention should include the role of risk communication, the role of safety communication through public/private collaboration, psychological, emotional, and behavioral responses to public education, public health surveillance, and early detection efforts, psychological responses to community containment strategies, health care service surge and continuity, and responses to mass prophylaxis strategies using vaccines and antiviral medication. The brief then explains the first step in preventing undesirable psychological, emotional, and behavioral response is an effective public health program of risk assessment and communication, public health prevention, and consequent management. Recommended steps in response to a pandemic or infection disease outbreak are described in four phases: preparedness, early outbreak response, later response and recovery, and mental health intervention planning.
COVID-19; communicable diseases; mental health services; guidelines; disaster response; disaster planning; therapeutic intervention