Impacts on and Care of Psychiatric Patients during the Outbreak of COVID-19

Pavarud Puangsri1, *, Vinn Jinanarong2, Apichai Wattanapisit3
1 School of Medicine, Walailak University, Thasala, Nakhon Si Thammarat, Thailand
2 Walailak University Hospital, Thasala, Nakhon Si Thammarat, Thailand
3 Prachuap Khiri Khan Hospital, Prachuap Khiri Khan, Thailand

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© 2021 Puangsri et al.

open-access license: This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International Public License (CC-BY 4.0), a copy of which is available at: This license permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.

* Address correspondence to this author at the School of Medicine, Walailak University, Thasala, Nakhon Si Thammarat, Thailand; Tel: +66870729002; E-mail:


The outbreak of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in December 2019 has led to massive lifestyle, economic, and health changes. The COVID-19 pandemic has had broad impacts on psychiatric patients, exacerbating symptoms such as psychosis, depression, and suicidal ideation. Therefore, we aimed to review the psychological impacts of COVID-19 on psychiatric patients and mental healthcare staff and provide practical guidance for medical staff and authorities.

The main findings of this review included the impacts of COVID-19 on psychiatric patients and mental health professionals as well as the transformation of mental health care. Greater consideration should be given to the care of patients with psychosis and depression because of their lack of self-care ability, neurocognitive impairment, and impaired immune function. Depressive symptoms can be exacerbated due to several factors, such as economic crises, social isolation, and limited physical activity. Unemployment and financial problems can lead to an increased suicide rate. Consequently, mental healthcare workers’ workload can increase, which could lead to burnout and psychological symptoms such as insomnia, depression, and anxiety.

A transformation of psychiatric care is needed during the time of the pandemic. While emergency care should be maintained, outpatient care should be limited to decrease viral spread. Shifting care to telemedicine and community-based psychiatry can be helpful. Inpatient services should be adapted by tightening admission criteria, shortening the length of hospital stays, suspending some group activities, limiting visitors, and preparing for quarantine if necessary. Mental healthcare workers can be supported with telecommunication, appropriate work shifts, alternative accommodations, and good communication between the team leader and staff.

Keywords: COVID-19, Mental disorders, Mental health services, Patient care, Psychological stress, Case management.