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Project #130:
Surveillance of psychiatric emergencies over time to investigate the effect of COVID-19 on mental health. A cohort study using OpenSafely

  • Type: Audit
  • Topic areas: Other/indirect impacts of COVID on health/healthcare

The effect of the COVID-19 pandemic, and of the measures introduced to control it, is not yet fully understood. To date, we know that mental health of the population was affected, and that primary care, secondary care and emergency department consultations related to mental health decreased dramatically in the first phase of the pandemic. We also know that the system has changed in response to the pandemic, for example more virtual consultations are now conducted with the reduction in face-to-face consultations as compared to before the pandemic. In this research, we will quantify the change during the COVID-19 pandemic in trends of psychiatric emergencies across different patient groups. We will investigate the following psychiatric emergencies: self-harm, suicide-related, alcohol-related, eating disorders-related, and home violence-related hospitalisations and emergency department visits, as well as mortality (due to above mentioned psychiatric emergencies). We will compare the trends (counts and rates) in psychiatric emergencies observed (that actually happened) during the COVID-19 pandemic to trends that would be expected if the pandemic had not happened (predicted using mathematical models). With this, we will investigate the effect of the COVID-19 pandemic on 1) mental health of the population, 2) the severity of psychiatric emergencies, 3) service utilisation by patients and 4) inequalities between different patient groups. This research is important to support patients, healthcare professionals, and the healthcare system in the recovery from the pandemic.