Dr. Marlene Freeman on Practicing Psychiatry During the Coronavirus Pandemic

By | April 8, 2020

As mental health providers, most of us are not on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic; however, we are feeling the ripples.  Given the magnitude of this crisis and its significant impact on so many aspects of our everyday lives, it is likely that this experience will leave an indelible imprint on our psychological well-being for years to come.

In an editorial in the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry, Dr. Marlene Freeman, associate director of our program, discusses the impact of the pandemic on how we practice psychiatry, urging us to bolster our community in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“This crisis has highlighted the extent of interconnectedness of our institutions, including medical, public health, political, economic, and educational. The current pandemic clearly underscores the global nature of our lives today and the limited constructs of nationality, religion, and political leanings in the face of a common threat. Now, more than ever, we need to embrace and nurture a coming together of the global community.”

At the present time, it is unclear what our future holds.  As mental health providers, we take care of a vulnerable population.  For those with psychiatric illness, the uncertainty which the pandemic brings can be a potent trigger and may exacerbate symptoms of anxiety and depression, especially when coupled with social isolation and disruptions in usual care.  

We must also be cognizant of the impact of this crisis on our mental health as we support and provide treatment to others.  The American Psychiatric Association provides some recommendations for taking care of ourselves in this new and strange landscape. 

The following is a list of COVID-related mental health resources provide for providers and patients:

MGH Department of Psychiatry Guide to Mental Health Resources for COVID-19

Mental Health America: Living With Mental Illness During COVID-19 Outbreak — Preparing For Your Wellness

Beyond Blue: Looking After Your Mental Health During The Coronavirus Outbreak

Ruta Nonacs, MD PhD

Freeman MP. COVID-19 From a Psychiatry Perspective: Meeting the Challenges.   J Clin Psychiatry. 2020 Mar 31;81(2). Free Article

MGH Center for Women's Mental Health