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Tackling the unseen virus at the unseen frontier

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There has been widespread coverage, attention and discussion regarding the anxieties of COVID-19 pandemic in health and social care settings; however, compared to other healthcare environments, mental health care settings have not received a similar level of attention and concern. Interestingly there are unique challenges in mental health units and at the height of the pandemic there has been a significant impact on staff, patients and carers. Mental health staff have had to adapt their ways of working, focusing more on the physical health of patients and caring for COVID positive patients in a mental health unit. Anxiety about the infection spreading to other patients and to staff who interact very closely with patients were significant concerns, with the additional difficulties of accessing the appropriate PPE during the early stages of the outbreak. Some challenges are unique to mental health settings and become even more intense within a psychiatric intensive care unit (PICU). These include difficulties with isolation, social distancing and the reluctance of patients to wear masks. The lessons learnt caring for the most challenging patients in a PICU are explored. The adaptability, flexibility and commitment to providing kind, compassionate care at the height of the COVID pandemic is remarkable.
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Keywords: COVID-19; MENTAL HEALTH; MORALE; PICU; PPE; SOCIAL DISTANCING

Document Type: Commentary

Publication date: September 1, 2020

This article was made available online on July 14, 2020 as a Fast Track article with title: "Tackling the unseen virus at the unseen frontier".

More about this publication?
  • Published twice a year, the Journal of Psychiatric Intensive Care is devoted to issues affecting the care and treatment of people with mental disorders who manifest severely disturbed functioning. The journal is international and multidisciplinary. It provides stimulating papers and articles of interest to those who work in or study psychiatric intensive care, low secure services, acute inpatient wards, challenging behaviour environments, emergency psychiatry, or intensive treatments settings in other parts of the wider mental health system. The Journal of Psychiatric Intensive Care encourages informed debate and exchange of opinion. Its content includes editorials, original research, brief reports, reviews, conference reports, news and notices, but preference is given to original research of a high scientific quality.
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