Longitudinal impact of COVID‑19 on clinical practice and well-being of global mental health professionals
Due to the COVID‑19 pandemic, health care workers face highly stressful and rapidly changing work environments, often caring for those with COVID‑19 without adequate protective equipment while coping with their own fears of getting sick or infecting others. Studies from other pandemics tell us that health care workers often experience impairing psychological symptoms such anxiety, sadness, insomnia and general distress, which can be long lasting and lead to reduced quality of care and safety or to leaving their jobs. Mental health concerns in the population have increased because of the pandemic (e.g., isolation, anxiety, substance use), but accessing services is more difficult. Psychiatrists and other mental health professionals face increased demands and substantial stress; it is critical to understand their experiences to ensure the availability of high-quality services, including those using telehealth technologies like videoconferencing. This study uses detailed online surveys in 6 languages to assess the impact of the COVID‑19 pandemic on clinical practice and well-being of global mental health professionals. The survey will be implemented at three time points to look at changes over time. Participants will be members of the World Health Organization’s Global Clinical Practice Network, including 15500 mental health clinicians from 159 countries. The study assesses: 1) Effects of COVID‑19 on work circumstances and services; 2) Work-related stress and distress; 3) Use of telehealth services and related concerns; and 4) Expectations, resource needs, and recommendations. The study responds to the CIHR call by providing evidence to inform clinical and health system management and public health response. Findings will inform CIHI (co-applicant knowledge user), the Government of Canada, WHO, professional associations and health systems as they work to ensure continuity of care for people with mental illness and to protect and retain the mental healthcare workforce.