Religion and Mental Health

This is the seventh part of a IH Blog series, Global Mental Health: Burden, Initiatives and Special Topics.

Out of over 7 billion people on Earth, more than 80% identify with a religious group. The Pew-Templeton Global Religious Future Project reports that Christianity is the world’s largest religion, with approximately 2.4 billion individuals affiliating as Christian. The project estimates that 1.9 billion individuals affiliate as Islamic, 1.2 billion with Hinduism, 507 million with Buddhism and 15 million with Judaism. In most countries, a majority claim that God plays an important role in their daily lives

As mentioned in the first part of this IH Blog Series, over one in three people will experience a mental health problem in their lifetime. Out of the total number of people who experience a mental health problem, 76-85% of people do not receive the treatment they need. With religion playing such a significant role in people’s lives and with mental illness being a global crisis, understanding the interplay between religion and mental health care seeking is of crucial importance. 

Religion divides but it also unites us. All religions offer explanations for the meaning of life, purpose of life and rationalize human suffering. With religion being a source of individual growth, community strength, solidarity and resilience, it is clear that a person’s faith and spirituality has implications on their mental health. For example, in Hinduism, there is a broad view of life summed up in four aims (Purushartha): Dharma, Kama, Artha and Moksha. Each highlights harmony in different dimensions of life. Religious and spiritual beliefs and activities are commonly used to cope with stressful life events. Whether an individual lives in a high, middle or low-income country, people look to religious leaders and advisors for guidance in place of or before seeking out mental health treatment. In addition to poor access, stigma, a lack of understanding and religious insensitivity by mental healthcare professionals are just a few of the barriers religious people face in seeking out formal mental health services. We are discovering more about the role religion and spirituality play in mental health care seeking globally, but there are a number of gaps in our current knowledge on the subject. Most studies on religion and mental health treatment seeking have been done in the U.S. and Europe with religiosity garnering more attention than spirituality. 

Elena: I first became interested in the relationship between religion and mental health when I interned at the National Alliance on Mental Illness’s (NAMI) national office in Arlington, Virginia five years ago. I remember exploring the NAMI website and discovering a page on faith and spirituality with a link to NAMI’s interfaith resource network, NAMI FaithNet. As a spiritual Jewish atheist, I found this perspective to mental health eye-opening. In the summer of 2019, at the start of my Master of Public Health program at Arcadia University, I began developing my capstone research project on the topic of Black clergy and their role in the mental health of their congregants. The aim of this research was to explore Black Protestant Philadelphia clergy’s perceived self-efficacy in the mental health gatekeeper role. From my background research, I discovered that Blacks are more likely to report serious psychological distress compared to Whites, but are less likely to utilize formal mental health services. Instead of utilizing these services, many Christian Blacks seek guidance from clergy, who are increasingly being called mental health gatekeepers. Philadelphia is a large, historical center of the Black Protestant community, but through a detailed literature review, I discovered that qualitative research was lacking on this topic within this population. 

After conducting six semi-structured interviews with Philadelphia Black clergy, several themes emerged. The clergy I interviewed had differing mental health gatekeeper identities, with some considering themselves mental health gatekeepers and others not identifying with the title at all. Self-efficacy was high for clergy’s ability to recognize what was and was not within their scope of expertise, but self-efficacy varied for other skills, such as recognition of mental illness. Clergy acknowledged similar challenges in assisting congregants in need of mental health treatment and all admitted a need and desire to improve access to mental health resources. All respondents discussed interest in developing collaborations that may help them provide mental health assistance and connect congregants to mental health professionals in Philadelphia. Intervention and policy initiatives aimed at collaborating with Black Philadelphia Protestant clergy to address the perceived mental health needs of their congregations could strengthen their self-efficacy in the mental health gatekeeper role.

The role of religion in mental health and well-being is substantial. In a time when mental health outcomes globally are declining, exploring and understanding the mechanisms that shape our mental health is critical. This provides the foundation for developing effective strategies to prevent mental health issues as well as manage and treat these conditions. Further research is needed to fully elucidate the relationship between mental health and religion/spirituality in a range of populations and settings to inform intervention development and dissemination. 

About the Authors:

Screen Shot 2020-03-31 at 7.52.50 PM

Elena Schatell MPH (c) MMS (c)

Elena Schatell is a current student at Arcadia University enrolled in the Dual Master of Public Health/Master of Medical Science in Physician Assistant Program. She aims to promote public health in underserved communities as a future physician assistant. Her current public health interests include access to mental health services, stigma surrounding mental illness, and the relationship between faith and mental health. She has interned at the National Alliance for Mental Illness (NAMI) national office in Arlington, Virginia, working closely with the Advocacy and Public Policy team on conducting research on service barriers and state mental health policy. During her time at NAMI, she also authored articles for the Advocate magazine and blog.

McClintock.Picture

Dr. Heather F. McClintock PhD MSPH MSW

Dr. McClintock is an IH Section Member and Assistant Professor in the Department of Public Health, College of Health Sciences at Arcadia University. She earned her Master of Science in Public Health from the Department of Global Health and Population at the Harvard School of Public Health. Dr. McClintock received her PhD in Epidemiology from the University of Pennsylvania with a focus on health behavior and promotion. Her research broadly focuses on the prevention, treatment, and management of chronic disease and disability globally. Recent research aims to understand and reduce the burden of intimate partner violence in Sub-Saharan Africa. Prior to completing her doctorate she served as a Program Officer at the United States Committee for Refugees and Immigrants and a Senior Project Manager in the Center for Clinical Epidemiology and Biostatistics, University of Pennsylvania. At the University of Pennsylvania she led several research initiatives that involved improving patient compliance and access to quality healthcare services including the Spectrum of Depression in Later Life Study and Integrating Management for Depression and Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus Study.

Creative Writing and Mental Health

By Sarah Edmonds and Dr. Heather F. McClintock PhD MSPH MSW 

This is the sixth part of a IH Blog series, Global Mental Health: Burden, Initiatives and Special Topics.

Part VI – Special Topic: Creative Writing and Mental Health 

Standard treatments approaches (counseling and/or medication) for addressing mental health issues are important, yet alternative approaches and strategies are growing in popularity. One alternative approach is Creative Art Therapy (CAT) which encompasses the use of many creative mediums (e.g. visual art, music, dance, and writing). The literature base indicates that CAT may be low-risk and high benefit for persons with severe mental illness. However, further methodologically rigorous studies are needed to substantiate the effectiveness of these approaches. 

Writing is one medium that has been widely used and studied in application as a tool for enhancing mental health through different forms aimed at self-improvement such as journaling, diaries, and dream logs. In contrast, the usage of writing as a craft through the creative process is an approach that has received relatively little attention. This approach involves persons writing for an outside audience at the point of creation rather than solely for the writer’s own benefit or reflection. Writing as a craft gives the writer the ability to form life and order out of thoughts and chaotic experiences. Some work has shown that a creative approach can help patients build their sense of “self” potentially helping them cope with difficult experiences. Improved confidence is a key mechanism through which creative writing may influence mental health. Research has shown that creative writing can help in building a sense of confidence, community, and connection among marginalized groups.

As a creative writer (SE), the statement “We create as a means of understanding the world around us and our place in it” is often used to describe why our creative process works in helping us deal with social issues or the emotional turmoil we feel in our own lives. As a woman with a minor physical disability, my fiction writing deals frequently with characters thriving despite sexism and ableism. The creative process whether applied through writing or other art forms aids us in coping and understanding our experiences enhancing our mental health. My friend, an eco-artist by profession, uses biodegradable materials and often inoculates her work with mushroom mycelia so that it grows and decays as is the process of all living things.

Other writers and artists that I know also say that “it’s always been easier for me to express emotions or come to terms with different things that have happened in my life through the written word,” “it’s something like meditation. I’m able to block out everything else and focus solely on what I’m creating. It’s like nothing else matters or exists,” and that “I feel like I would probably be in a worse spot mentally if I wasn’t creating.”

Based on my (SE) experiences as well as recent research, creative writing as a craft may have the potential to be a powerful tool for individuals to improve and maintain their mental health and wellness. As seen in a study conducted across the UK, creative writing workshops open to both residents and refugees allowed deeper connections between refugees and those whose community they were trying to become a part of. Also, it has been suggested that, in cases such as cultivating the mental health of people in protracted conflict areas such as the West Bank, creative expression and communication is a better stress-management tool than the current foreign aid systems that may not consider cultural biases in their methodology. The benefits of creative arts, in general, can also be seen through the work of organizations such as Colors of Connection’s project Courage in Congo that uses community-based art programs to provide therapeutically—as well as economically—beneficial skills to adolescents who are at risk or are victims of sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV). By making the program community-based, it also works towards fighting the social biases the community has against women and young girls.

Whether someone had a rough day at school, is struggling with a severe mental illness, or lives in a community that is unsafe or unwelcoming, the ability to craft narrative and shape events through words that are solely their own gives people a much-needed sense of strength and autonomy. Creative writing gives us the power to find a sense of self, the power to create a safe space in an unforgiving world, and the power to take control over who we are and how we connect to everything and everyone around us.

About the Authors:

Sarah Edmonds

Sarah Edmonds is a Dual Master of Arts in English and Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing student at Arcadia University. She has won awards for her work in film at festivals such as the BareBones International Film and Music Festival. Her creative work focuses on giving voice to underrepresented groups; she is currently working on a short documentary about biracial women’s identity struggles in the United States. While working with the Carroll County Media Center, she produced local news and interview segments about substance abuse and mental health awareness. Her main goal in her professional and creative work is to open dialogues about topics that normally carry social stigma so that no one ever has to be afraid to get help or to be who they truly are.

Dr. Heather F. McClintock PhD MSPH MSW

Dr. McClintock is an IH Section Member and Assistant Professor in the Department of Public Health, College of Health Sciences at Arcadia University. She earned her Master of Science in Public Health from the Department of Global Health and Population at the Harvard School of Public Health. Dr. McClintock received her PhD in Epidemiology from the University of Pennsylvania with a focus on health behavior and promotion. Her research broadly focuses on the prevention, treatment, and management of chronic disease and disability globally. Recent research aims to examine health literacy and intimate partner violence in Sub-Saharan Africa. Prior to completing her doctorate she served as a Program Officer at the United States Committee for Refugees and Immigrants and a Senior Project Manager in the Center for Clinical Epidemiology and Biostatistics, University of Pennsylvania. At the University of Pennsylvania she led several research initiatives that involved improving patient compliance and access to quality healthcare services including the Spectrum of Depression in Later Life Study and Integrating Management for Depression and Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus Study.


Integrated Mental Health Care

This is the fifth part of an IH Blog series, Global Mental Health: Burden, Initiatives and Special Topics.

In the context of a pandemic, access to and the quality of mental health care is paramount. Effective and feasible delivery models for mental health care service provision are critical for meeting growing demands for care. Many new and innovative models have been proposed and integrated approaches have been identified as potentially effective strategies to address this growing need. The goal of integrated mental health care is to enhance accessible, affordable, cost-effective mental health services for individuals. There are a range of different integrated care models including collaborative care, hub-based systems, and patient-centered medical homes. Collaborative care, for example, is an integrated care program that combines behavioral health care management and consultations with mental health specialists in the primary care setting. 

Mental health care provision in the context of primary care settings is important because primary care is the first point of contact for patients in the healthcare system. The Declaration of Alma-Ata, adopted at the 1978 International Conference on Primary Health Care organized by UNICEF and WHO, identified primary health care as a central function of health systems and the key to attaining the goal of ‘Health for All.’ Forty years later, at the Global Conference on Primary Health Care, primary care was re-emphasized as the most effective way to sustainably solve today’s health challenges, partly through the provision of integrated services. The promotion, maintenance and improvement of mental health is explicitly included in the 2018 Declaration as a service that primary health care should provide to patients. 

Mental illness is frequently comorbid with a long list of chronic illnesses and disorders. Depression is common among people who have cancer, coronary heart disease, diabetes, multiple sclerosis, HIV/AIDS, and rheumatoid arthritis, among other chronic illnesses. Some disorders increase the risk of depression. At the early stages of Parkinson’s disease dopamine decreases which can cause depression. Chronic stress, whether it be illness-related or social stress, can trigger anxiety and depression. Researchers have found high levels of the stress hormone, cortisol, to disrupt neuroplasticity in brain structures that are functionally abnormal in depression, such as the hippocampus. Medication used to treat certain chronic disorders can lead to depressive symptoms. Nifedipine, used in the treatment of cardiovascular conditions, has been linked with the induction of depression. Even drugs used to treat and prevent asthma have been found to have psychiatric side effects. Bronchodilators mimic adrenaline and trigger the body’s sympathetic “fight or flight” nervous system response. This response causes one to feel anxious and panicky. Montelukast is another asthma medication that has neuropsychiatric side-effects in children and has recently elicited the FDA to require a stronger box warning of the side-effect. 

Conversely, adults with serious mental illnesses are at greater risk for chronic physical illnesses and other medical conditions, such as stroke and cardiovascular disease, than the general population. One explanation for this association is that individuals with mental illness can have a harder time caring for themselves, seeking care, eating well, exercising and taking medication as prescribed. Scientists have found that depression increases inflammation, reduces heart rate variability, and disturbs the metabolic system

Ethiopia, India, Nepal, Nigeria, South Africa and Uganda have strengthened integrated mental health care through the World Health Organization’s mhGAP program. Through the mhGAP program, primary care providers are trained to identify and manage mental disorders, prescribe psychotropic medication, and provide evidence-based psychosocial interventions. For integrated mental health care to fully flourish, change needs to come from within the medical sector, as well as outside of it, in the policy sector. The Netherlands, since the early 2000s, has worked to integrate mental health care into a number of health care settings, including hospitals and community health centers. They also introduced an innovative bundled payment system in 2007 to promote and incentivize integrated care. 

There are many challenges inherent in implementing integrated care models. Countries face resource constraints including workforce shortages. Primary care providers can be trained to provide mental health care, but they must be supported by secondary mental health professionals who are the experts in their field. Finally, to ensure optimal success and sustainability, countries must enact legislation that fosters the development of infrastructure that supports integrated mental health care. 

About the Authors:

Screen Shot 2020-03-31 at 7.52.50 PMElena Schatell MPH (c) MMS (c)

Elena Schatell is a current student at Arcadia University enrolled in the Dual Master of Public Health/Master of Medical Science in Physician Assistant Program. She aims to promote public health in underserved communities as a future physician assistant. Her current public health interests include access to mental health services, stigma surrounding mental illness, and the relationship between faith and mental health. She has interned at the National Alliance for Mental Illness (NAMI) national office in Arlington, Virginia, working closely with the Advocacy and Public Policy team on conducting research on service barriers and state mental health policy. During her time at NAMI, she also authored articles for the Advocate magazine and blog.

McClintock.PictureDr. Heather F. McClintock PhD MSPH MSW

Dr. McClintock is an IH Section Member and Assistant Professor in the Department of Public Health, College of Health Sciences at Arcadia University. She earned her Master of Science in Public Health from the Department of Global Health and Population at the Harvard School of Public Health. Dr. McClintock received her PhD in Epidemiology from the University of Pennsylvania with a focus on health behavior and promotion. Her research broadly focuses on the prevention, treatment, and management of chronic disease and disability globally. Recent research aims to understand and reduce the burden of intimate partner violence in Sub-Saharan Africa. Prior to completing her doctorate she served as a Program Officer at the United States Committee for Refugees and Immigrants and a Senior Project Manager in the Center for Clinical Epidemiology and Biostatistics, University of Pennsylvania. At the University of Pennsylvania she led several research initiatives that involved improving patient compliance and access to quality healthcare services including the Spectrum of Depression in Later Life Study and Integrating Management for Depression and Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus Study.

 

 

 

 

Global Mental Health Agenda and Pandemic Preparedness

This is the fourth part of a IH Blog series, Global Mental Health: Burden, Initiatives and Special Topics.

Part IV – Global Mental Health Agenda and Pandemic Preparedness

The COVID-19 pandemic has exposed a need to improve preparedness for mental health care services provision in the context of pandemics. The mental health burden associated with COVID-19 and prior pandemics is pervasive, highlighting a critical need for preparedness plans to incorporate a mental health response. As discussed in our previous blog, there are initiatives related to global mental health and COVID-19 that are being implemented, but a fully adaptive and comprehensive approach is needed to mitigate mental health consequences.

The agenda and priority setting of international governing bodies provides the foundation for establishing and implementing comprehensive preparedness plans and approaches. For the first time in 2015, the United Nations (UN) established mental health as a priority by including substance abuse and mental health in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. A total of 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) were created and adopted by all UN Member States. Mental health is specifically a part of SDG 3: “Ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages.” Within Goal 3, two targets are directly related to mental health. Target 3.4 states: “by 2030, reduce by one third premature mortality from non-communicable diseases through prevention and treatment and promote mental health and well-being.” Target 3.5 focuses on drug addiction, proposing that countries: “strengthen the prevention and treatment of substance abuse, including narcotic drug abuse and harmful use of alcohol.” 

In 2013, the World Health Assembly published a Comprehensive Mental Health Action Plan for 2013-2020 in response to the growing burden of mental illness. In the action plan’s foreword, Director-General Dr. Margaret Chan stated that mental health is a fundamental part of WHO’s definition of health. The action plan was extended to 2030 at the 72nd World Health Assembly to align with the UN’s 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. The plan’s framework is intended to be adapted at the regional level in order to address regional priorities and circumstances. 

With this action plan, all WHO Member States committed to contributing efforts to meet the global targets around improving mental health. The plan includes four objectives around effective leadership and governance, service provision in community-based settings, promotion and prevention, and strengthening research. Each objective is broken down into specific, measurable targets and their respective indicators. This structure allows countries to monitor progress and impact and report these data back to WHO to monitor progress and impact. The full action plan, published in 2013, can be read here.  This article by the Lancet, also published in 2013, summarizes the plan. 

WHO has created practical tools that national authorities can use to improve mental health service resilience during and after public health emergencies such as the WHO Recovery Toolkit. These resources can help national authorities develop or update national pandemic preparedness plans. Even though there has been increased prioritization of global mental health by the UN and WHO, there is significant work to be done on integrating mental health into emergency preparedness and pandemic planning. 

Given the current global agenda, the revision and implementation of preparedness planning that supports care for mental health is critical. With revised multisector pandemic preparedness plans that incorporate new and emerging evidence, we could lessen the lingering mental health effects of future pandemics. A recently published JAMA article highlights the need for prevention and early intervention to proactively prepare for an increase in mental health conditions from the COVID-19 pandemic. The authors mention the necessity of having mechanisms in place for surveillance, reporting and intervention, as well as bolstering mental health systems in preparation for increased service demands.

About the Authors:

Screen Shot 2020-03-31 at 7.52.50 PMElena Schatell MPH (c) MMS (c)

Elena Schatell is a current student at Arcadia University enrolled in the Dual Master of Public Health/Master of Medical Science in Physician Assistant Program. She aims to promote public health in underserved communities as a future physician assistant. Her current public health interests include access to mental health services, stigma surrounding mental illness, and the relationship between faith and mental health. She has interned at the National Alliance for Mental Illness (NAMI) national office in Arlington, Virginia, working closely with the Advocacy and Public Policy team on conducting research on service barriers and state mental health policy. During her time at NAMI, she also authored articles for the Advocate magazine and blog.

McClintock.PictureDr. Heather F. McClintock PhD MSPH MSW

Dr. McClintock is an IH Section Member and Assistant Professor in the Department of Public Health, College of Health Sciences at Arcadia University. She earned her Master of Science in Public Health from the Department of Global Health and Population at the Harvard School of Public Health. Dr. McClintock received her PhD in Epidemiology from the University of Pennsylvania with a focus on health behavior and promotion. Her research broadly focuses on the prevention, treatment, and management of chronic disease and disability globally. Recent research aims to understand and reduce the burden of intimate partner violence in Sub-Saharan Africa. Prior to completing her doctorate she served as a Program Officer at the United States Committee for Refugees and Immigrants and a Senior Project Manager in the Center for Clinical Epidemiology and Biostatistics, University of Pennsylvania. At the University of Pennsylvania she led several research initiatives that involved improving patient compliance and access to quality healthcare services including the Spectrum of Depression in Later Life Study and Integrating Management for Depression and Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus Study.

Global Mental Health Initiatives and COVID-19

This is the third part of a IH Blog series, Global Mental Health: Burden, Initiatives and Special Topics.

Part III – Global Mental Health Initiatives and COVID-19

Mental health issues pose a significant public health burden and in the context of COVID-19 this burden is growing substantially. In low- and middle-income countries, 76%-85% of people with mental disorders do not receive needed treatment. Many countries do not have the infrastructure, resources and/or political support to adequately ensure that all persons have access to high quality mental health services. Therefore, there is a large gap between the need for mental health treatment and available services.

One important indicator of a country’s capacity to address the growing mental health burden is the availability of adequately trained personnel to provide treatment and care. In 2010, the World Health Organization (WHO) released the results of a study that found that low- and middle-income countries in the African Region and the South-East Asian Region reported fewer mental health professionals than the Americas or the European Region. According to the 2017 Mental Health Atlas country profiles, this trend still exists. For example, India reported 1.93 total mental health workers per 100,000 population, Rwanda reported 2.01, and China reported 8.75, whereas Germany reported 144.87, France reported 173.63, Finland reported 250.55 and the United States reported 271.28. In order to meet the increasing demand for mental health care globally adequately trained mental health care providers are critically needed.

One initiative aiming to reduce the burden of mental health issues globally is the Mental Health Gap Action Programme (mhGAP) which was launched in 2008. This program uses evidence-based tools, training, and interventions to expand mental health service provision in resource-poor, low-income countries around the world. The original 2010 mhGAP Implementation Guide has been used in over 100 countries and translated into more than 20 languages. The program directs its training towards health-care providers who do not have specialized training in mental health. For instance, in 2017, to address the mental health needs of persons affected by conflict in Borno State, in northeastern Nigeria, the Federal Neuro-Psychiatric hospital and governmental authorities launched the mhGAP program. This program trained primary care workers to identify and provide care for persons with mental disorders. The story of Aisha, a girl directly impacted by this conflict who received mental health treatment through mhGAP can be found here.

In the World Health Organization’s (WHO) most recent global targets and goals (Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)), mental health was explicitly included as a part of SDG Target 3.4. In December 2019 WHO held a meeting to accelerate progress on SDG Target 3.4 on Noncommunicable Disease and Mental Health in Oman. The goal of this meeting was to have countries come together to share success stories and challenges in order to develop innovative ideas on how to scale up national interventions to reach SDG target 3.4 by 2030. There were sessions titled: “Mental health and psychosocial support in emergencies” and “Story-telling and mass media for mental health.” Video of panels held during the meeting can be viewed here

As part of their QualityRights Initiative, WHO has developed training and guidance modules that are meant to empower all stakeholders to promote mental health recovery and human rights in mental health facilities, improve service delivery, and change mindsets around mental health. The modules are designed to be used in low, middle, and high-income countries. Updated modules were introduced in November 2019. QualityRights has been introduced into 31 countries, with Ghana being the first to introduce the program country-wide in early 2019. A total of 22 member states of the European Region formally agreed to carry out mental health related activities during 2018-2019, and a majority stated they would use WHO QualityRights toolkit and guidance materials. 

Another WHO initiative, WHO MiNDbank, is a free online platform that contains a wide variety of international and country-specific resources covering behavioral health. MiNDbank is a part of WHO’s QualityRights campaign and aims to facilitate dialogue, advocacy and research surrounding human rights violations against people experiencing mental health challenges and disabilities. 

Current Initiatives Focused on COVID-19

Global Initiatives

New global initiatives are being implemented to address the mental health burden of the COVID-19 pandemic. Many initiatives are focused on disseminating educational resources out to the public. In direct response to the COVID-19 pandemic, WHO released a list of mental health and psychosocial considerations for different groups, such as people in isolation, carers of children, and healthcare workers. To support research efforts on behavioral insights related to COVID-19, the WHO Regional Office for Europe developed a survey tool for European Member States to use. 

On March 17, 2020, the Inter-Agency Standing Committee (IASC), a humanitarian coordination forum created by the United Nations, published an interim briefing note titled, “Addressing Mental Health and Psychosocial Aspects of COVID-19 Outbreak.” Like WHO’s list of considerations, this briefing note summarizes important mental health and psychosocial support considerations in relation to the COVID-19 outbreak. The document includes 14 recommended activities and six interventions that can be globally implemented as part of the COVID-19 mental health response. The briefing note is available in over 15 different languages. 

Initiatives in the United States 

The United States is implementing several initiatives that aim to address the mental health burden of the COVID-19 pandemic. Information about some of these initiatives is provided below:

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)

  • The CDC webpage – Stress and Coping. This page provides general and population specific recommendations.

National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI)

Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA)

  • A web page dedicated to COVID-19, with SAMHSA resources and information, guidance for opioid treatment programs, and additional federal guidance 
  • A list of SAMHSA COVID-19 funded grants organized by state

Mental Health America

  • Information and resources on mental health and COVID-19. Includes tips for social distancing, quarantine, and isolation, resources for financial support, tools and information on anxiety, links to webinars and workshops, and information for parents, older adults, domestic violence survivors, and more. 

American Psychiatric Association (APA)

Harvard University

National Child Traumatic Stress Network (NCTSN)

ThriveNYC

About the Authors:

Screen Shot 2020-03-31 at 7.52.50 PMElena Schatell MPH (c) MMS (c)

Elena Schatell is a current student at Arcadia University enrolled in the Dual Master of Public Health/Master of Medical Science in Physician Assistant Program. She aims to promote public health in underserved communities as a future physician assistant. Her current public health interests include access to mental health services, stigma surrounding mental illness, and the relationship between faith and mental health. She has interned at the National Alliance for Mental Illness (NAMI) national office in Arlington, Virginia, working closely with the Advocacy and Public Policy team on conducting research on service barriers and state mental health policy. During her time at NAMI, she also authored articles for the Advocate magazine and blog.

McClintock.PictureDr. Heather F. McClintock PhD MSPH MSW

Dr. McClintock is an IH Section Member and Assistant Professor in the Department of Public Health, College of Health Sciences at Arcadia University. She earned her Master of Science in Public Health from the Department of Global Health and Population at the Harvard School of Public Health. Dr. McClintock received her PhD in Epidemiology from the University of Pennsylvania with a focus on health behavior and promotion. Her research broadly focuses on the prevention, treatment, and management of chronic disease and disability globally. Recent research aims to understand and reduce the burden of intimate partner violence in Sub-Saharan Africa. Prior to completing her doctorate she served as a Program Officer at the United States Committee for Refugees and Immigrants and a Senior Project Manager in the Center for Clinical Epidemiology and Biostatistics, University of Pennsylvania. At the University of Pennsylvania she led several research initiatives that involved improving patient compliance and access to quality healthcare services including the Spectrum of Depression in Later Life Study and Integrating Management for Depression and Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus Study.