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In the past several months, the novel coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) has received extensive attention globally. It was first reported in Wuhan, Hubei province, China, at the end of 2019 and was transmitted to multiple regions of China and subsequently to many countries in the East and the West. As of March 30, 2020, the number of patients infected with COVID-19 has rapidly reached 693 224 globally, especially across the North American, European, and Eastern Mediterranean regions, including in the US, Italy, Spain, and Iran.1 The rapid transmission of COVID-19, high fatality rates in subpopulations, lack of effective treatments and vaccines, and mass quarantine measures have led to common mental health problems, such as fear, anxiety, depression, and sleep problems, in patients with COVID-19 infections, close contacts, the public, and even health care professionals.2,3 Therefore, there is a pressing need to establish appropriate mental health services to address the risk of psychiatric morbidities. Mental health professionals are facing insurmountable challenges because of the lack of relevant guidelines, scant mental health resources, and inadequate training to provide mental health services in isolation infectious units and hospitals. Patients with serious psychiatric needs are considered a highly vulnerable population to contract COVID-19. For example, hundreds of patients with psychiatric disorders, as well as mental health professionals, were infected in China.4 As such, a joint effort to establish international collaboration is urgently needed to address the mental health challenges caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
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Corresponding Author: Yu-Tao Xiang, MD, PhD, Unit of Psychiatry, Institute of Translational Medicine, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Macau, Avenida da Universidade, 3/F, Building E12, Taipa, Macao Special Administrative Region, China (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Published Online: April 10, 2020. doi:10.1001/jamapsychiatry.2020.1057
Author Contributions: Drs Xiang and Jin contributed equally to this work.
Conflict of Interest Disclosures: The study was supported by the National Science and Technology Major Project for investigational new drugs (grant 2018ZX09201-014), the Beijing Municipal Science & Technology Commission (grant Z181100001518005), and the University of Macau (grant MYRG2019-00066-FHS). No other disclosures were reported.
Additional Contributions: The authors thank Chee H. Ng, MD, MBBS, Department of Psychiatry, The Melbourne Clinic and St Vincent's Hospital, University of Melbourne, for his contribution to this article. He was not compensated.
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