Hugelius K, Johansson S, Sjölin H
Int J Environ Res Public Health 18 (17) - [2021-08-28; online 2021-08-28]
This study aimed to describe experiences of managing mental health and psychosocial activities during the first six months of the COVID-19 pandemic in Sweden. A national survey was answered by a non-probability sample of 340 involved in the psychosocial response. The psychosocial response operations met several challenges, mainly related to the diverse actors involved, lack of competence, and lack of preparations. Less than 20% of the participants had received specific training in the provision of psychosocial support during major incidents. The interventions used varied, and no large-scale interventions were used. The psychosocial response organizations were overwhelmed by the needs of health care staff and failed to meet the needs of patients and family members. An efficient and durable psychosocial response in a long-term crisis requires to be structured, planned and well-integrated into the overall pandemic response. All personnel involved need adequate and specific competence in evidence-based individual and large-scale interventions to provide psychosocial support in significant incidents. By increasing general awareness of mental wellbeing and psychosocial support amongst health professionals and their first-line managers, a more resilient health care system, both in everyday life and during major incidents and disasters, could be facilitated.