Social connectivity is essential for successful mental health interventions

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People with chronic health conditions are more likely to have mental health issues as well, a problem that has only intensified during the COVID-19 pandemic. Researchers in Canada and the UK have now discovered “best practices” to meet the needs of this population.

The results of their study, a quick review of articles examining mental health programs in 10 countries, including the United States, Canada, Australia, United Kingdom, China, Ukraine, Italy, Germany, France and Spain, have identified five key elements common to successful health interventions. : social connectivity, resilience, responsibility, trust and power sharing.

“These mechanisms are interconnected and crucial for the development of effective mental health interventions at all levels and will encourage positive relationships among stakeholders,” says Ben Collins, Education Specialist, Rady Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Manitoba . Failure to take these mechanisms into account can lead to an increased risk of creating and implementing policies that produce less effective interventions for people at higher risk of COVID-19. ”

The research team’s rapid review looked at publications in English and Chinese that reported on key elements of successful mental health interventions during the pandemic for people with chronic physical health conditions. A wide variety of programs have been studied, including telehealth interventions and the use of FaceTime with patients with Alzheimer’s disease. These have been contrasted with the pre-pandemic literature.

“Although public health measures are needed to manage the spread of COVID-19, social distancing can have negative impacts on mental health, especially for people with chronic health conditions,” says Lorna Stabler, partner researcher at Cardiff University and lead author of the review. “To maintain and promote mental health, social connection is essential. While we may all be tired of Zoom, for some, finding ways to stay in touch could be a key part of keeping our health on track during the process. pandemic.”

In the UK, additional funding to help healthcare providers connect people with resources within their community has been used to try to maintain these important social connections. Other strategies used by governments and health care providers included transitioning services online and funding new technology-facilitated interventions. For example, in China, funds were provided for community mental health outreach teams, 24/7 mental health hotlines and online platforms to manage health consultations and prescriptions. mental.

While governments must be resilient to embrace rapid change, previous research has shown that decisions need to be made in partnership with policy makers, health professionals, and individuals and their communities. Researchers found that one-sided decision-making risked excluding and marginalizing people with chronic health conditions.

“Organizational and service resilience is just as important as individual resilience,” says Maura MacPhee, Professor of Nursing, University of British Columbia-Vancouver, Canada. Without adaptability of organization and service delivery during crises, individual resilience is not sufficient to carry the burden of a pandemic. ”

The significance of the study’s findings extends beyond the current pandemic. In particular, the need to share decision-making power between those who provide and those who access services is essential to develop services and policies that meet the needs of the community.

“The effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on mental health and substance use are expected to be delayed, complex and long-lasting. That’s why we worked with the Canadian Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse (CCSA) to track the relationship and explore the intersections between the two, ”said Brandon Hey, Policy and Research Analyst at the Commission on mental health of Canada. “Our rapid review underscores the importance of making people with chronic health conditions an integral part of how we think about and plan for mental health and addiction needs.”

Researchers argue that it is vital to strengthen accountability and shared responsibility for mental health policy at all levels. “In the face of the challenges created by COVID-19 and the public health response, this study addressed the need to provide guidance for a comprehensive, multi-level systems approach to interventions that promote mental health, particularly for vulnerable people living with physical problems. and mental health co-morbidities, ”says Simon Carroll, co-author and adjunct professor in the Department of Sociology at the University of Victoria. “Rebuilding better means aligning all levels of our health and social protection systems, with a responsibility shared between the stakeholders. Mental health must be a priority in health policy ”

“Our study provides important advice to social workers, physicians, public health policymakers and other healthcare professionals on how to design effective interventions to mitigate the mental health consequences of the pandemic at short term and long term, “said co-author Esme Fuller. -Thomson, professor of social work and director of the Institute for Life Course and Aging at the University of Toronto. “The professionals in these positions maintain important relationships of trust that are essential for engaging the community in the development of effective mental health policies. These are the people who work in this field every day. “

“We hope these results will serve as lessons learned during the pandemic to help improve the effectiveness and robustness of mental health interventions in the future,” Stabler said. “Mental health cannot be an afterthought. ”

This quick realistic review was published online in the latest issue of the International Journal of Environmental and Public Health Research.


Lack of mental health support during the pandemic for people with chronic health conditions


More information:
Lorna Stabler et al, A Rapid Realist Review of Effective Mental Health Interventions for Individuals Chronic Physical Health Conditions during the COVID-19 Pandemic Using a Systems-Level Mental Health Promotion Framework, International Journal of Environmental and Public Health Research (2021). DOI: 10.3390 / ijerph182312292

Provided by the University of Toronto

Quote: Study: Social Connectivity Essential for Successful Mental Health Interventions (2021, December 15) retrieved December 15, 2021 from https://medicalxpress.com/news/2021-12-social-connectedness-essential-successful- mental.html

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