Covid-19: National PTSD screening programme ‘urgently needed’

Patients affected by COVID-19 need to be urgently screened for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and receive regular check-ups for at least a year, according to UCL psychiatrists and psychologists, who formed the ‘COVID Trauma Response Working Group’.

The group, which also includes mental health experts from the NHS, Oxford University, Kings College London and the University of Haifa, Israel, calls for a co-ordinated UK ‘screen and treat’ service, to ensure all survivors have equal access to specialist mental health support.

Today (Monday 29 June, 2020) the ‘COVID Trauma Response Working Group’ (CTRWG) has published evidence-based clinical guidelines designed to inform NHS planners and clinicians of the principles for addressing the mental health needs of people who have been critically ill with COVID-19 infection.

The recommendations derive from similar epidemics, mass casualty events and critical care settings. The CTRWG warns that without immediate national action, many COVID-19 patients and their families face the prospect of long term mental health consequences.

In line with other infectious outbreaks, the experts estimate that rates of mental health problems in survivors of severe COVID-19 illness to be 30% for PTSD, 15% for depression and 15% for anxiety disorders.

In launching the guidelines, the group states: “The mental health needs of survivors of severe COVID infection need to be taken as seriously as their physical health needs.”

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