HumanInsight Mental health in Italy after two years of COVID-19 from the perspective of 1281 Italian physicians: looking back to plan forward
Ann Gen Psychiatry. 2022 Aug 10;21(1):30. doi: 10.1186/s12991-022-00410-5.
BACKGROUND: The COVID-19 pandemic has generated an unprecedented global crisis that is profoundly affecting mental health and mental health care. The aim of this study was to survey a relatively large group of Italian physicians about their perceived impact of COVID-19 on the mental health of the Italian population and about their suggestions on the best strategies to address the current and future challenges.
METHODS: One thousand two hundred eighty-one (1,281) physicians were surveyed between November 2021 and February 2022.
RESULTS: Eighty-one percent of respondents reported an increase in the number of people with mental illness presenting to their practice during the COVID-19 pandemic. Thirty-four percent reported a 26-50% increase in the number of people with mental illness in their community; approximately 33% reported a 1-25% increase; and 26.9% reported a 51-75% increase. The most commonly reported mental issues that increased because of COVID-19 were agitation, mood and anxiety disorders. Regarding the suggested strategies to address future challenges related to the COVID-19 pandemic, 34.6% of respondents recommended providing psychoeducation to the general population for early detection of mental illness and developing strategies to reduce the impact of COVID-19-related stress. In addition, 12.6% of respondents suggested improving telehealth services, while 12.3% suggested the need for increased funding for community-based care. When asked about physicians' opinion on the possibility of an increased prevalence of mental illness in the next 12 months, more than 30% of them predicted an increase in stress-related illnesses, while 25.2% were more concerned about a worsening of the ongoing clinical conditions of patients with previous psychiatric disorders. However, 21% of respondents believed that people's ability to cope with the pandemic would increase in the next 12 months.
CONCLUSIONS: This study confirmed a strong and negative impact on the mental health of the past 2 years of COVID-19 pandemic in the Italian population. Providing psychoeducation to the general population and improving the availability of telemedicine services could reduce the impact of future challenges related to the pandemic.
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