In April 2020, the world was gripped by the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, and the situation has only worsened since then. ESCAP, more specifically the Research Academy committee, launched a survey to establish the initial impact of the pandemic on child and adolescent psychiatric services, and recently launched a second to follow-up 1-year on.
We reached out to our National Member Societies, fellows of the Research Academy and ESCAP board members to obtain the contact details of heads of child and adoelscent psychiatric departments (academic i.e. university) throughout Europe.
In April 2020, we reached out to 168 heads of psychiatric services and got responses from 83 across 20 countries in Europe. What was clear from these responses is that despite the challenging and uncertain conditions, child and adolescent psychiatric services are adapting well to the new situation, especially in terms of a minimal impact on psychopathology and adopting new technologies including telepsychiatry. The major concerns were insufficient contact with patients and families, unable to maintain specific therapeutic groups, treating too few patients with a foreseeable deficit, and unable to complete clinical work as meetings to manage the crisis took precedent.
One year later, a follow-up survey was launched and found that service and care delivery had improved since the 2020 but the perceived impact on the mental health and psychopathology of children and adolescents dramatically increased from "medium" in 2020 to "strong" or "extreme" in 2021. Four nosographic entities were impacted: suicidal crises, anxiety disorders, eating disorders and major depressive episodes. In addition, more referrals or requests for assessments were seen in 2021, and overall CAP heads of departments were concerned about the long-term consequences of the crisis.
Both articles are published in the European Child & Adolescent Psychiatry (ECAP) Journal and now online: