The novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) or commonly known as COVID-19 is not the first coronavirus outbreak, although it is the first of its kind to reach a global scale. While we are aware of its adverse impacts on the socio-economic sphere, countries that have dealt with the other coronavirus strains have also reported that living in epidemics is detrimental to mental wellbeing. For example, in the 2003 SARS-CoV outbreak in Singapore, 27% of healthcare workers suffered from mental illnesses. In the 2003 SARS-CoV outbreak in Taiwan, the majority of the emergency department staff developed PTSD. More recently, in the 2015 MERS outbreak in Korea, medical isolation is found to cause high levels of stress in patients.

Research shows consistent findings: a sudden disease outbreak always harms the mental health of those directly affected by the disease in addition to their close contacts. These people consequently have a higher chance of suffering anxiety, depression, anger, and other associated psychological problems. Moreover, people who are isolated and quarantined are also prone to mental health problems due to the lack of face-to-face communication and social interaction. Individuals with vulnerable mental health status must be provided with up to 6 months of mental health support and follow-up after the release of social isolation. Therefore, policymakers should account for mental wellness while developing future policies, especially policies on pandemic containment measures.

Greater China Region