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20/05/2019 - General information

MIND/COVID, a project studying the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on mental health, kicks off

This is a nationwide study led by researchers from the Hospital del Mar Medical Research Institute (IMIM) and Hospital del Mar

Source: Photo by CDC on Unsplash

The nationwide MIND/COVID study, headed up by researchers from the Hospital del Mar Medical Research Institute (IMIM) and Hospital del Mar, is one of the few projects funded so far by the Carlos III Health Institute (ISCIII) of the Ministry of Science and Technology. The aim is to study the mental health of healthcare workers and other key groups, as well as COVID-19 patients and a sample of the general Spanish population.

Natural disasters such as severe hurricanes, floods or earthquakes, and major epidemic outbreaks -such as SARS, MERS or Ebola- lead to an increase in acute stress, symptoms of anxiety and depression, and other mental health problems.  This impact can affect the most vulnerable populations in particular, and lead to the emergence of mental disorders and addictions. Healthcare workers are a vulnerable population because of the risk of contagion and the enormous workload involved in trying to manage the disease.

"The magnitude of the COVID-19 pandemic, which is unprecedented in recent history; the lack, for the time being, of effective treatments and vaccines; and the risk of potential outbreaks, are major stressors for this profession. Rigorous monitoring is needed to better understand the risk factors for developing mental disorders and to try to identify the needs for care and emotional support", explains Jordi Alonso, director of the IMIM's Epidemiology and Public Health Programme and the study's principal investigator.

Consol Serra, head of the Occupational Health Service at Hospital del Mar, coordinator of the IMIM's Social Epidemiology and Occupational Health research group and co-principal investigator of the study at the PSMAR, points out that "a high level of participation will make it possible to achieve more representative results which will be more useful for determining possible mental health needs arising from the pandemic."

"Healthcare professionals are, along with COVID-19 positive individuals and their families, one of the groups most at risk of developing mental disorders. In recent weeks, more than 900 people have made enquiries through the one2one platform set up by Hospital del Mar to assist these high-risk groups.  Carrying out studies like MIND/COVID is the only way to measure the magnitude of the problem and offer possible preventive actions", explains Victor Perez, director of the Institute of Neuropsychiatry and Addictions at Hospital del Mar (INAD), coordinator of the IMIM's Mental Health Research Group and co-principal investigator of the PSMAR study.

The MIND/COVID study will include professionals from other hospitals and primary care centres in Catalonia, the Community of Madrid, the Basque Country, Valencia, Castile and León and Andalusia. The first results are expected to be available within a few months.

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