Management of psychiatric conditions and delirium during the COVID-19 pandemic across continents: lessons learned and recommendations

Brain Behav Immun Health. 2020 Dec;9:100147. doi: 10.1016/j.bbih.2020.100147. Epub 2020 Sep 19.


Background: With the uncertainties of COVID-19, people infected with coronavirus present with diverse psychiatric presentations. Some institutions have had to manage their patients with existing protocols, others have had to create them. In this article we aimed to report the challenges and good practices in the management of psychiatric conditions and delirium coexisting with COVID-19 across continents.

Methods: Early Career Psychiatrists (ECPs) from across five continents were approached to share their experiences on the management of psychiatric conditions in patients with COVID-19 during the current pandemic.

Results: We collected information about the experiences from sixteen countries. Commonalities were similar psychiatric presentations and poor preparedness across countries. Differences were varying adjustments made in the management of psychiatric conditions coexisting with COVID-19 and different innovations. Good practices which can be adopted by other countries are novel approaches such as telepsychiatry, proactive consultation-liaison units and enhanced community services targeted at circumventing challenges faced when providing mental health services.

Conclusions: These findings highlight the need for global preparedness in the mental health sector during outbreaks of infectious diseases, and the need for concerted efforts targeted at global and locally sensitive adaptation of existing protocols and the development of new guidelines for the management of psychiatric conditions for the present pandemic and subsequent occurrences.

Keywords: COVID-19; Coronavirus; Delirium; Early career psychiatrists (ECPs); Management; Psychiatric conditions.