April 6, 2020
By Lucia Valmaggia
The IEPA Board hopes this finds you and you dear ones well. This is a challenging and unpredictable time. Amidst all of this, early intervention clinicians, lived experience workforce, researchers and carers, continue their critical work. Many of you might be in self-isolation, coming to grips with (among so many other things) a new way of working. Some of you might be continuing to work in essential services to provide care to young people and their families.
The combination of physical distancing, worry and anxiety can be stressful for everybody, and many young people with existing mental ill-health are facing the challenges of social distancing from families and peers, lost time in education, unemployment and an uncertain future.
While the physical health outcomes of COVID-19 are understandably the focus of the crisis response for now, we must not neglect mental health in this time. In this respect, the principles of early intervention are key: we must be able to support people now to limit the potential negative impact on the mental health of our communities during and in the aftermath of COVID-19.
It is heartening to see that in some countries action is being taken to improve access to online mental health consultations and it is imperative that support continues to flow to mental health services and research centres.
To ensure services can deliver best-practice care now and in the future, academics and clinicians around the world have contributed to a research response to prioritise mental health and neuroscience COVID-19 research which will be published shortly in The Lancet Psychiatry. We are hopeful that included in this response there will be a strong focus on youth mental health and early intervention research.
In the meantime, we would like to acknowledge the great work being done by people in early intervention services and research centres around the world, and also remind you to take care of your own wellbeing. It is vital that we support each other, and to this end, the IEPA is developing accessible COVID-19 mental health resources suitable for young people and the early intervention community. If your service has developed any useful resources, please submit them to our List a resource page and indicate that it is a COVID-19 resource.
Finally, many young people are currently searching for help. If your early intervention service is not listed on our website, please forward details via the IEPA website https://iepa.org.au/list-a-service/ and we will upload your service to our interactive map as soon as possible, to enable people in your country to access available evidence-based early intervention services.
Stay safe and look after each other.
Warm wishes to you all
Lucia Valmaggia, President
Tell us your stories
Many services are switching to telehealth for some mental health consultations, but how else are you changing the way you work to support young people? What tips did you have for your colleagues in the early intervention community? What are you doing to support yourselves and keep well during stressful, unsettling times?
Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we will collate and reshare your tips on this page.