From the Editor

We talk about the virus’ effects on our patients, both in terms of physical and mental health. But what has it done to us?

Health-care workers have been on the front lines of this pandemic and have experienced the psychological toll. While past studies have considered mental disorders of health-care workers, their methodology hasn’t been strong, often relying on online surveys. In the first selection, Hannah Scott (of King’s College London) and her co-authors look at mental disorders and the pandemic in a new Lancet Psychiatry paper. Importantly, they did a two-phase, cross-sectional study comprising of diagnostic interviews. They write: “The prevalence estimates of common mental disorders and PTSD in health-care workers were considerably lower when assessed using diagnostic interviews compared with screening tools.” Still, they found that about one in five met threshold for a mental disorder and “thus might benefit from clinical intervention.” We consider the paper and its implications.

In the second selection, Beatrice Webb (of Flinders University) and her co-authors look at social media and young people. In a Point of View paper for Australasian Psychiatry, they note problems with mental health including the rise in psychological distress – something tied to social media. They also observe some benefits to Instagram and other online platforms. The paper is practical and offers advice, including: “We encourage clinicians to explore social media use in the assessment of young people, due to potential impacts on depression, anxiety and self-harm.”

At this time of year, The BMJ runs its Christmas issue, meant to be light-hearted and with liberal use of British humour. In the third selection, Ryan Essex (of the University of Greenwich) considers calls to action in the medical literature. In an Editorial, he opines: “The call to action has several obvious advantages over actually acting. Making that call allows you to salve your conscience, to ‘do something’ without the hard work of actually doing something.”

There will be no Readings for the next two weeks. We will return with force (but a lack of British humour) on 12 January 2023 when we will review the best papers of the year. A quick word of thanks for your continuing interest.

All the best in the holiday season.


Continue reading