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Beck Institute

One thing that COVID-19 has taught us is how interconnected we all are as a global community. In 2019, Beck Institute formed an International Advisory Committee made up of top CBT experts in sixteen countries to help support our important work with clinicians, researchers, students, academics and healthcare workers and administrators around the world. Last week, we called upon them to share resources and to provide an update on the challenges and opportunities they are seeing in their respective countries. We’ll be adding to this list as we receive additional updates.

United Kingdom:

David M. Clark, DPhil, and 2019 Beck Excellence Award Recipient, writes that his team at Oxford have developed some short guides on how therapists can deliver cognitive therapy for PTSD, social anxiety and panic disorder treatments remotely (video conference or phone) during the COVID-19 pandemic. These resources can be accessed here:

Remote Delivery Guides for PTSD, Social Anxiety, and Panic Disorder

Romania:

Daniel David, PhD, has written a number of helpful articles on cognitive and behavioral strategies that can be used to cope with the disruption in routine, isolation and anxiety brought on by the crisis. He has also produced short videos for his university television station. The writings and videos (in Romanian), along with other resources, can be accessed here:

Articles, Videos, and Information About Psychological Support During COVID-19 in Romania

Australia:

Sunil Bhar, PhD, tells us about an initiative he is working on to bring much needed mental health services to older adults, who are among the most vulnerable and often the most isolated as a result of COVID-19.

Dr. Bhar writes:

As much of my research focuses on older adults, I am working with others to launch a national telehealth mental health service for older adults and their families and staff. We will offer free counselling to older adults, particularly those living in residential aged care facilities– as most facilities have stopped families from visiting. So, hopefully, we will be able to bring some comfort to older adults who are extremely isolated, their families who do not know how to help, and staff who are coping with conflicting concerns. We are in the process of partnering with local chapters of organizations related to ageing to get the word out. There is both a need for rapid delivery of services and appropriate governance – so we are doing what we can to balance these priorities. The service will be entirely run by provisionally trained psychologists, social workers and counsellors, so we are in the process of organizing placements, supervisors and clients. Given the age group, we expect that most of our telehealth services will be by phone.  

He also shares the following resources from the Australian Psychological Society:

Maintaining Your Mental Health During Social Isolation

Tips for Coping with Coronavirus Anxiety

Coronavirus (COVID-19) Anxiety and Staying Mentally Healthy (For Older Adults)

Brazil:

Melanie Pereira, PhD, writes about the unique challenges in Brazil, and how she and other health and mental health workers are continuing to support the population:

Our clients are mainly worried about their health and jobs, which is normal. We are a country that already had problems in our economy, so you can imagine what this shut down means for us. There is a part of the society that is not in favor of it. We are attending to our private patients online, but not all of them. Many psychiatric, medical and psychology associations are delivering online information and free consultation to support the population.

Dr. Pereira also shares simple steps that she’s been advising clients take to keep themselves grounded during the crisis:

  • Keep an everyday routine during the isolation period, including a set time to wake up, sleep, eat your meals, and work or study online.
  • Avoid drowning in the news, social media, and information about statistics, number of cases and deaths from COVID-19. Engage in this behavior no more than twice a day, one hour at the most at the time. This behavior only increases anxiety and is not useful.
  • Make visual contact online at least once a day with members of your family and friends. Try having a “virtual coffee” or a “virtual happy hour” with them.
  • Choose one different simple task outside of your daily routine at least three times a week. You could cook different dishes, listen to music you have never heard before, or talk to your neighbor through the window.
  • Live one day at time, do not try to solve or prevent everything; this will just make you feel frustrated or anxious.

The Netherlands:

Claudi Bockting, PhD, shares the following about the shift to telemental health in the Netherlands, including special arrangements being made for COVID-19 patients:

In mental health there is a rapid transition to telehealth and online mental health. Clients are happy with the transition. Webinars are extremely popular that present methods on telehealth and online health. In addition, we will provide mental health care for professionals that treat COVID-19 patients and we have arranged subsidized treatment for COVID-19 patients with severe mental health conditions.

She shares two articles published by her research group examining the treatment outcomes for telemedicine and online interventions:

Internet-based Behavioural Activation With Lay Counsellor Support Versus Online Minimal Psychoeducation Without Support for Treatment of Depression: A Randomised Controlled Trial in Indonesia

Guided Internet Interventions for Depression: Impact of Sociodemographic Factors on Treatment Outcome in Indonesia

For more information and resources, visit our COVID-19 Resource Bank.