COVID-19 and mental health: A review and the role of telehealth and virtual reality

Sainz-Fuertes R, Gelabert Mir JM, Valderas JM, Bullock K, Giersch A, Vogeley K, García AT, Huguet MA, Russell T, Hollingdale J, Lopez-Moriñigo JD, Delgado IN, Selsick H, Gurr H, Fitzpatrick T, Maddox T. COVID-19 and mental health: A review and the role of telehealth and virtual reality. Digit Med. 2020 Jul-Dec;6(2):53-66. doi: 10.4103/digm.digm_22_20.

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On March 12, 2020, with more than 20,000 confirmed cases and almost 1000 deaths in the European Region, the World Health Organization classified the COVID-19 outbreak as a pandemic. As of August 15, 2020, there are 21.5 million confirmed cases of COVID-19 and over 766,000 deaths from the virus, worldwide. Most governments have imposed quarantine measures of varied degrees of strictness on their populations in attempts to stall the spread of the infection in their communities. However, the isolation may have inflicted long-term psychological injury to the general population and, in particular, to at-risk groups such as the elderly, the mentally ill, children, and frontline healthcare staff. In this article, we offer the most up-to-date review of the effects of COVID-19 confinement on all the disorders listed in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. We make data-driven predictions of the impact of COVID-19 confinement on mental health outcomes and discuss the potential role of telemedicine and virtual reality in mental health screening, diagnosis, treatment, and monitoring, thus improving the above outcomes in such a difficult time.