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Special Issue "Mental Health Care among At-Risk Populations in the Context of COVID-19"

A special issue of International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health (ISSN 1660-4601). This special issue belongs to the section "Mental Health".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: 15 March 2023 | Viewed by 12209

Special Issue Editors

Dr. Mellissa Withers
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Dr. Jill Murphy
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Mood Disorders Centre, Department of Psychiatry, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, BC V6T 1Z3, Canada
Interests: global mental health; depression; digital health; equity; integration of mental health care into primary care and the community; stakeholder engagement in research, implementation science
Dr. Ishtar Govia
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Epidemiology Research Unit, Caribbean Institute for Health Research, The University of the West Indies, Mona Campus, 7 Ring Road, Kingston 7, Jamaica
Interests: population approaches to dementia risk reduction; mental and brain health; partnerships and capacity building for health- and social care research, policy, and practice in resource-constrained contexts in LMICs and other countries and settings
Dr. Matias Irarrazaval
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
1. Mental Health and Substance Use Unit, Pan American Health Organization/World Health Organization, Washington, DC 20037, USA
2. Faculty of Medicine, University of Chile. Av. La Paz, 1003 Santiago, Chile
Interests: global mental health; child and adolescent mental health

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

The ongoing novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has had unprecedented and devastating effects globally. The mental health effects of COVID-19 have been profound and are still emerging. The long term impacts of social isolation, job and economic insecurity, experiences of illness and bereavement, physical distancing, and disrupted access to usual health and mental healthcare continue to reverberate among populations. While the effects of COVID-19 are felt globally, the mental health consequences may be more pronounced in low and middle-income settings and among at-risk populations that are at higher risk of experiencing negative mental health effects without adequate access to care. Healthcare workers and others on the frontlines, essential workers, vulnerable groups such as people experiencing homelessness, migrants, and people living with existing mental health and substance use conditions, women, sexual minorities, children, the elderly, Indigenous communities and victims of domestic violence may be at higher risk of negative mental health impacts and may experience unique barriers in accessing care. It is essential to understand the needs of these populations and to identify specific strategies to improve equity in access to mental health services.

Researchers, practitioners, and educators are invited to submit manuscripts related to any area of mental health care among at-risk populations in the context of COVID-19. Papers can focus on community-based interventions and/or policy. We will consider original quantitative and qualitative research articles (max 4000 words, excluding references and tables), as well as review articles. We also invite critical reflections and commentaries regarding the methodological and ethical challenges of conducting healthcare research and/or providing mental health services among at-risk populations. We encourage papers on research that has been conducted in partnership with people with lived experience. The papers do not have to focus on COVID-19 specifically; reflections on the implications of the work in the current contest are also welcome.

Dr. Mellissa Withers
Dr. Jill Murphy
Dr. Ishtar Govia
Dr. Matias Irarrazaval
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All submissions that pass pre-check are peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health is an international peer-reviewed open access semimonthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 2500 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • mental health
  • vulnerable populations
  • depression
  • COVID-19
  • frontline workers
  • essential workers
  • domestic violence

Published Papers (5 papers)

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Research

Article
Loneliness and Increased Hazardous Alcohol Use: Data from a Nationwide Internet Survey with 1-Year Follow-Up
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2022, 19(19), 12086; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph191912086 - 24 Sep 2022
Viewed by 972
Abstract
We aimed to examine the association between loneliness and developing alcohol dependence or hazardous alcohol use. A cohort study was conducted utilizing data from a nationwide internet survey in 2021 and 2022 in Japan. A total of 15,854 follow-up participants (55% men, with [...] Read more.
We aimed to examine the association between loneliness and developing alcohol dependence or hazardous alcohol use. A cohort study was conducted utilizing data from a nationwide internet survey in 2021 and 2022 in Japan. A total of 15,854 follow-up participants (55% men, with a mean age of 52.8 years) were divided based on AUDIT scores: nondrinkers (AUDIT: 0), low-risk drinkers (AUDIT: 1–7), medium-risk drinkers (AUD: 8–14), high-risk drinkers (AUDIT: 15–19), and probable alcohol dependence (AUDIT: 20–40). The University of California, Los Angeles Loneliness Scale (Version 3), a short-form three-item scale, was used to assess loneliness (high loneliness score of ≥6). The prevalence of high loneliness was higher in nondrinkers than that in low- and medium-risk drinkers, i.e., 22%, 18%, and 17%, respectively, as well as in high-risk drinkers (32%) and those with probable alcohol dependence (43%) compared to non-high-risk drinkers (19%). After adjusting for various factors (sociodemographic, social isolation, psychological distress, and smoking), non-high-risk drinkers (AUDIT: 0–14) with high loneliness were more likely to become high-or-over-risk drinkers (AUDIT: 15–40) than those without high loneliness, with adjusted risk ratios of 1.45 (95% confidence interval: 1.08–1.96) through multivariable binary logistic regression. Among non-high-risk drinkers, people with high loneliness scores at baseline were associated with increased high-risk drinking patterns with probable alcohol dependence. Full article
Article
Mental Health Outcomes in Australian Healthcare and Aged-Care Workers during the Second Year of the COVID-19 Pandemic
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2022, 19(9), 4951; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph19094951 - 19 Apr 2022
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 2217
Abstract
Objective: the COVID-19 pandemic has incurred psychological risks for healthcare workers (HCWs). We established a Victorian HCW cohort (the Coronavirus in Victorian Healthcare and Aged-Care Workers (COVIC-HA) cohort study) to examine COVID-19 impacts on HCWs and assess organisational responses over time. Methods: mixed-methods [...] Read more.
Objective: the COVID-19 pandemic has incurred psychological risks for healthcare workers (HCWs). We established a Victorian HCW cohort (the Coronavirus in Victorian Healthcare and Aged-Care Workers (COVIC-HA) cohort study) to examine COVID-19 impacts on HCWs and assess organisational responses over time. Methods: mixed-methods cohort study, with baseline data collected via an online survey (7 May–18 July 2021) across four healthcare settings: ambulance, hospitals, primary care, and residential aged-care. Outcomes included self-reported symptoms of depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress (PTS), wellbeing, burnout, and resilience, measured using validated tools. Work and home-related COVID-19 impacts and perceptions of workplace responses were also captured. Results: among 984 HCWs, symptoms of clinically significant depression, anxiety, and PTS were reported by 22.5%, 14.0%, and 20.4%, respectively, highest among paramedics and nurses. Emotional exhaustion reflecting moderate–severe burnout was reported by 65.1%. Concerns about contracting COVID-19 at work and transmitting COVID-19 were common, but 91.2% felt well-informed on workplace changes and 78.3% reported that support services were available. Conclusions: Australian HCWs employed during 2021 experienced adverse mental health outcomes, with prevalence differences observed according to occupation. Longitudinal evidence is needed to inform workplace strategies that support the physical and mental wellbeing of HCWs at organisational and state policy levels. Full article
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Article
Examining the Associations between COVID-19-Related Psychological Distress, Social Media Addiction, COVID-19-Related Burnout, and Depression among School Principals and Teachers through Structural Equation Modeling
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2022, 19(4), 1951; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph19041951 - 10 Feb 2022
Cited by 27 | Viewed by 4498
Abstract
This study aims to investigate the relationships between COVID-19-related psychological distress, social media addiction, COVID-19-related burnout, and depression. The research, which was designed according to the relational survey model, was conducted with the participation of 332 school principals and teachers who received graduate [...] Read more.
This study aims to investigate the relationships between COVID-19-related psychological distress, social media addiction, COVID-19-related burnout, and depression. The research, which was designed according to the relational survey model, was conducted with the participation of 332 school principals and teachers who received graduate education in the field of educational administration. Research data were collected through online surveys and then structural equation modeling (SEM) was used to test and analyze the proposed hypotheses. The study’s findings revealed that COVID-19-related psychological distress strongly predicted COVID-19-related burnout. In this context, as the psychological distress associated with COVID-19 increased, the sense of burnout associated with COVID-19 also increased. However, it was found that burnout associated with COVID-19 significantly and positively predicted depression. SEM results revealed that COVID-19-related psychological distress directly affected COVID-19-related burnout, depression, and social media addiction. In addition, it was determined that an indirect effect of COVID-19-related burnout and social media addiction exists in the relationship between COVID-19-related psychological distress and depression. Full article
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Article
Increases in Alcohol and Cannabis Use Associated with Deteriorating Mental Health among LGBTQ2+ Adults in the Context of COVID-19: A Repeated Cross-Sectional Study in Canada, 2020–2021
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2021, 18(22), 12155; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph182212155 - 19 Nov 2021
Cited by 4 | Viewed by 1913
Abstract
Lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, other queer, and Two-Spirit (LGBTQ2+) people are particularly at risk for the psycho-social consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic, though population-tailored research within this context remains limited. This study examines the extent of, and associations between, increased alcohol and cannabis [...] Read more.
Lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, other queer, and Two-Spirit (LGBTQ2+) people are particularly at risk for the psycho-social consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic, though population-tailored research within this context remains limited. This study examines the extent of, and associations between, increased alcohol and cannabis use and deteriorating mental health among LGBTQ2+ adults in Canada during the COVID-19 pandemic. Data are drawn from LGBTQ2+ respondents to a repeated, cross-sectional survey administered to adults living in Canada (May 2020–January 2021). Bivariate cross-tabulations and multivariable logistic regression models were utilized to examine associations between increased alcohol and cannabis use, and self-reported mental health, overall coping, and suicidal thoughts. Five-hundred and two LGBTQ2+ participants were included in this analysis. Of these, 24.5% reported increased alcohol use and 18.5% reported increased cannabis use due to the pandemic. In the adjusted analyses, increased alcohol use was associated with poor overall coping (OR = 2.28; 95% CI = 1.28–4.07) and worse self-reported mental health (OR = 1.98; 95% CI = 1.21–3.25), whereas increased cannabis use was associated with suicidal thoughts (OR = 2.30; 95% CI = 1.16–4.55). These findings underscore the need for population-tailored, integrated substance use and mental health supports to address interrelated increases in alcohol/cannabis use and worsening mental health among LGBTQ2+ adults, in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond. Full article
Article
Efficiency of an Online Health-Promotion Program in Individuals with At-Risk Mental State during the COVID-19 Pandemic
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2021, 18(22), 11875; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph182211875 - 12 Nov 2021
Viewed by 1265
Abstract
Mental health issues caused by the COVID-19 pandemic greatly impact people’s daily lives. Individuals with an at-risk mental state are more vulnerable to mental health issues, and these may lead to onset of full psychotic illnesses. This study aimed to develop and evaluate [...] Read more.
Mental health issues caused by the COVID-19 pandemic greatly impact people’s daily lives. Individuals with an at-risk mental state are more vulnerable to mental health issues, and these may lead to onset of full psychotic illnesses. This study aimed to develop and evaluate an online health-promotion program for physical and mental health of the individuals with at-risk mental state during the COVID-19 pandemic. A single group study with pre- and post-tests was conducted in 39 young adults with at-risk mental state. The participants were provided with the online health-promotion program after completing the pretest. Via social media, the online counseling program released one topic of material (about 15–20 min) every two weeks and provided interactive counseling for specific personal health needs on the platform. Study questionnaires, physiological examination, and blood serum examination were completed at both pre- and post-tests. The participants showed significant improvements in mental risk, anxiety, and physical activity after participating in the program. Furthermore, those who did not complete the program had significantly more severe negative symptoms. These results imply that the online health-promotion program is effective and accessible under certain barriers such as the COVID-19 pandemic, but not for individuals with higher risk of more negative mental health symptoms. Full article
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