The spread of the new coronavirus infectious disease (COVID-19) has been rampant, and the cumulative number of infected people in Japan has exceeded 10,000, leading to many deaths. We pray for the souls of the deceased and express our sincere condolences to the bereaved families.
As we were unable to stop the spread of the infection, on April 16th, a state of emergency was issued nationwide. In some areas, general medical fields are on the brink of collapse, but little information about the difficulties at psychiatric medical sites has been released to the public. Our colleagues are facing great difficulties in order to prevent infectious diseases in psychiatric wards, and university and general hospitals are converting psychiatric beds to treat COVID-19 patients, and reducing outpatient treatment capability.
With more than 4 million patients with mental illness each year, psychiatrists are committed to improving their psychiatric care, health and well-being not only in hospitals and clinics, but in a wide range of areas in society. We must try to minimize the risk of infection among medical personnel and patients, flexibly perform telemedicine and cooperation between facilities, and maintain the quality of psychiatric care required by our patients.
The human rights and psychiatric care of patients must not be neglected under the current state of emergency. The impact of COVID-19 on the mental health of the population can be widespread and marked, and an increase in the number of patients with mental illness and suicide is expected. We must share information and devise methods to protect psychiatric care.
The Society collects important mental health information related to COVID-19 and provides it to the public and professionals through its website.
The Society will continue to support all patients and healthcare professionals during this COVID-19 pandemic.
April 21, 2020
Shigenobu Kanba, MD, PhD.