The paper provides insights into the mental health consequences of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic from the Central, Eastern, Nordic, Southern, and Western subregions of Europe, represented by five member countries of the European Society for Traumatic Stress Studies (ESTSS). On the basis of the existing national research and experiences in these countries, we propose five lessons learned. (1) There is no evidence of a mental health pandemic so far in the countries in focus. No increase in severe mental disorders but some increase in the symptoms of common mental health disorders are observable. More high-quality longitudinal studies are needed to understand the mental health burden of the pandemic. (2) The pandemic affects countries (including the mental health situation) differently, depending on the level of the exposure, management policies, pre-pandemic structural characteristics, and healthcare resources. (3) The pandemic affects people differently: the exposure severity to pandemic-related stressors differs between individuals, as well as individual resources to cope with these stressors. There are winners and losers as well as identifiable at-risk groups that need particular attention. (4) Besides the negative consequences, the pandemic has had a positive impact. The rapidly applied innovations within the system of healthcare responses provide a window of opportunity for positive changes in mental healthcare policies, strategies, and practices. The increased focus on mental health during the pandemic may contribute to the prioritization of mental health issues at policy-making and organizational levels and may reduce stigma. (5) A stress- and trauma-informed response to COVID-19 is required. The European community of psychotraumatologists under the leadership of ESTSS plays an important role in promoting stress- and trauma-informed healthcare and policies of pandemic management. Based on the lessons learned, we propose a stepped-care public mental health model for the prevention of adverse mental health outcomes during pandemics. HIGHLIGHTS: Population mental health is affected differently in the COVID-19 pandemic: there are winners and losers, as well as identifiable at-risk groups that need particular attention. A stress- and trauma-informed public mental health stepped-care model can address pandemic-related mental health burden in a systematic way.
|Translated title of the contribution||Dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic in Europe: five lessons from the European Society for Traumatic Stress Studies|
|Journal||European Journal of Psychotraumatology|
|Publication status||Published - 2022|
- public mental health