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How are EP researchers contributing to mental health efforts around COVID-19?

Picture of hand coming down to hold calendar showing 10 Oct date

The severe mental health consequences of COVID-19 make today's World Mental Health Day even more relevant. Many around the world – of all ages and walks of life – are living in difficult circumstances with increased levels of stress, fear, sadness and isolation. Some are also managing the grief of losing a loved one, sometimes without having had the chance to say good-bye.

Many individuals, communities and institutions have risen to the challenge of addressing the mental health impacts of the pandemic. This snapshot of our COVID-19 work shows the many contributions our researchers are making to this global effort, including advising government, providing resources and shifting research priorities to meet this crisis.


During the COVID-19 lock-down, face-to-face psychological therapy was no longer possible. David M Clark has advised NHS England on how to ensure that treatments for common mental health problems in the Improving Access to Psychological Therapies (IAPT) services continued to be delivered. 95% of the therapies are now being delivered remotely and the effectiveness of treatments has remained the same.

The OxCADAT  team has trained therapists to deliver treatments for anxiety disorders, PTSD and traumatic bereavement remotely and made training materials available.

Jennifer Wild and her team are providing empirically-based support to hospital staff and paramedics working during the pandemic. Find out more about the SHAPE Recovery study.

With Daniel Freeman and Laina Rosebrock, we have identified cognitions that predict a decline in mental health during the pandemic. Find out more about this TOPIC study.

OxCADAT has been commissioned by Health Education England to deliver a top-up training programme for IAPT high intensity therapists in the treatment of PTSD. 


The impact of COVID-19 on the wellbeing and cancer care of young adults

Urska Kosir is the lead on an online study examining the psychological well-being of 177 young people living with and beyond cancer during the first weeks of the COVID-19 pandemic. A third reported increased levels of psychological distress, and as many as 60% reported feeling more anxious now than prior to the pandemic. Mental health and psychosocial wellbeing remain an unmet need for many young people with cancer. While the pandemic impacted our collective mental health, many young patients experience additional burden due to the disruptions and changes in their routine cancer care.


Supporting the Mental Health of Children, Young People and Families

Cathy Creswell, Polly Waite and the Emerging Minds Network's Co-Space Study tracks children and young people’s mental health throughout the COVID-19 crisis. The study seeks to identify what advice, support and help can actually protect the mental health of children in the UK who are in school years foundation to the end of GCSEs. 

Elaine Fox and her group's Oxford ARC Study examines resilience in 13-18 year olds relating to anxiety, depression, eating disorders, along with indicators of worry and affective flexibility for a 12-month period. The study is international and seeks to identify what factors support resilient functioning during the COVID-19 pandemic in young people.

Cathy Creswell and the TOPIC Group's Co-CAT study will evaluate an online therapy programme for children with anxiety problems to see if it is an effective remote alternative to existing mental health treatment services and could help treat anxiety problems during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Other COVID-19 Related Research

Aoife O'Higgins and her group are coordinating a study that explores the day to day lives of UK adults who have experienced care during COVID-19 to find out how the care community is coping and what helps them.

Alexandra Hendry is fostering a community of support for parents with very young children to try to mitigate some of the effects of social isolation due to COVID-19 restrictions on parental mental health, and to provide opportunities and ideas for activities to support their children' development.