Novel coronavirus (41) Online mental health services in China during the COVID-19 outbreak

22 February, 2020

Dear HIFA co9lleagues,

Citation, abstract and a comment from me below. (By the way, if you come across any interesting research that is relevant to the HIFA remit, please do forward it to together with your thoughts on it.)

CITATION: Online mental health services in China during the COVID-19 outbreak

Shuai Liu et al.

Lancet Psychiatry 2020

Published:February 18, 2020DOI:


At the start of 2020, the 2019 coronavirus disease (COVID-19), originating from Wuhan in Hubei province, started to spread throughout China. As a result of the rapidly increasing numbers of confirmed cases and deaths, both medical staff and the public have been experiencing psychological problems, including anxiety, depression, and stress...

The popularisation of internet services and smartphones, and the emergence of fifth generation (5G) mobile networks, have enabled mental health professionals and health authorities to provide online mental health services during the COVID-19 outbreak...

Firstly, as of Feb 8, 2020, 72 online mental health surveys associated with the COVID-19 outbreak could be searched...

Secondly, online mental health education with communication programmes, such as WeChat, Weibo, and TikTok, has been widely used during the outbreak for medical staff and the public. In addition, several books on COVID-19 prevention, control, and mental health education have been swiftly published and free electronic copies have been provided for the public. As of February 8, 29 books associated with COVID-19 have been published, 11 (37·9%) of which are on mental health, including the “Guidelines for public psychological self-help and counselling of 2019-nCoV pneumonia”, published by the Chinese Association for Mental Health...

In general, online mental health services being used for the COVID-19 epidemic are facilitating the development of Chinese public emergency interventions, and eventually could improve the quality and effectiveness of emergency interventions...

COMMENT (Neil PW): It is extraordinary to see the capacity of healthcare inforamtion providers in China - 29 books on COVID-19. But quantity is not what matters to meet the information needs of health professionals and the general public. No-one can read 29 books. For public health education, books are not the ideal format. What matters is that users are easily able to access the information they need, which by definition is reliable information in a format and language that is relevant to their needs and that they can understand.

Best wishes, Neil

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HIFA profile: Neil Pakenham-Walsh is coordinator of the HIFA global health campaign (Healthcare Information For All - ), a global community with more than 19,000 members in 177 countries, interacting on six global forums in four languages. Twitter: @hifa_org FB: