In April, working with the Academy of Medical Sciences, MQ led the urgent global mental health research response to the COVID-19 epidemic. This culminated in a roadmap published in Lancet Psychiatry, bringing together views from an expert group of 24 researchers and over 3000 members of the public.
We are delighted that this work is already having an impact – not only being widely cited in ongoing research and policy development but importantly helping to drive new research funding and collaborations on mental health and COVID-19.
While we continue to ensure the priorities within the roadmap are acted on, we know that they don’t exist in a vacuum. It has been fantastic to see the community discuss and evolve the priorities set out in the paper. As such, the authors have published a further paper that builds on this community response and sets out five areas that need to be front and centre of the ongoing mental health research response:
1) Those affected by COVID-19 and those with mental health problems must have a voice – co-design must be integral to the mental health science response. For example, young people should be included as equal partners in the design and implementation of mental health science solutions. This will not only make research better, but will also lead to the inclusion of new aspects of positive mental health, such as resilience, courage, and compassion.
2) Black, Asian, and minority ethnic communities must be represented, both as participants in co-design of research and on study management groups. With the significant impact on BAME communities of COVID-19 now devastatingly clear, the authors welcomed the call for a race equality impact assessment being applied to all forthcoming research studies.
3) High-standards matter. As the community works at pace to understand the effects of COVID-19 on mental health, ensuring the highest ethical and scientific standards is vital to this effort – for example around confidentiality and appropriate engagement of vulnerable groups.
4) The mental health science response must be truly multi-disciplinary. Whilst the range of expertise involved in the Lancet Psychiatry paper was drawn from diverse areas of research, there are many professions central to the COVID-19 mental health response who must be included, such as nursing.
5) The research response needs to be measured – these are distressing times for many people, so the response must be tailored and we must be vigilant to mitigate the risks to mental health difficulties. This means thinking about long-term preventative approaches.
At MQ, we’re committed to ensuring these priorities inform our COVID-19 response. As we learn more about the impact of COVID-19 on our mental health, finding ways to reduce this impact is becoming ever more important. We are working hard to make this research happen – but we urgently need your help.
Your support will can us push this agenda and coordinate the mental health research community, to save lives in the future. Donate now to our COVID-19 Fund or take part in research through our Participate platform.
Last updated: 28 June 2020