Preparing for pandemic influenza and its aftermath: mental health issues considered

Int J Emerg Ment Health. 2009 Summer;11(3):137-44.


In November of 2005, President George W Bush requested $7.1 billion dollars for a global influenza epidemic preparedness initiative (Brown, 2005). Preparation measures for a biological threat or influenza pandemic focus on rapid quarantine, vaccines, developing antiviral treatments, and economic concerns (Brown, 2005; Ferguson et al., 2006; Reina, 2008). Although these public health measures are vital, they do not consider the acute mental health consequences that could develop during a pandemic and its aftermath. The most recent H1N1 swine flu has now spread to more than 70 countries (CDC, June 2009), and as of June 11, 2009, is considered a Phase 6 pandemic by the World Health Organization, indicative of ongoing community level outbreaks in multiple parts of the globe. Following recent cases of swine flu, global concern of an influenza pandemic has risen, and it is critical that metal health considerations become an integrated part of the pandemic response. Here, potential mental health consequences and high risk populations are identified and reviewed. Mental health professionals, communities, businesses, and organizations can create an infrastructure to help mitigate mental health consequences. These issues, as well as familial stressors and coping methods, are reviewed.

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Psychological
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Child
  • Community Mental Health Services
  • Crisis Intervention*
  • Disease Outbreaks*
  • Emergency Services, Psychiatric*
  • Humans
  • Influenza A Virus, H1N1 Subtype*
  • Influenza, Human / psychology*
  • Life Change Events
  • Psychological Distance
  • Quarantine / psychology