Improving the Preparedness of Health Systems to Reduce Mental Health and Psychosocial Concerns resulting from the COVID-19 Pandemic

The mission of RESPOND is 1) to identify critical resilience factors and specific vulnerable groups at risk of immediate and long-term adverse mental health impact of the COVID-19 pandemic; 2) To improve the resilience, wellbeing and mental health of frontline health and care workers and other vulnerable groups by implementing scalable World Health Organization (WHO) programmes, and 3) to steer future policy decisions by understanding and disentangling the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic and different public health containment and subsequently relaxation strategies on mental health and wellbeing in vulnerable groups across Europe’s different health systems.

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RESPOND is centred around core questions regarding the short and long-term impacts of the pandemic on mental health and health inequalities on vulnerable groups within the general population, including frontline workers. In the first immediate delivery phase, an impressive set of existing longitudinal datasets are examined for resilience factors and risk factors. Furthermore, the responsiveness of health systems and identification of best practice responses that protect resilience, mental health and wellbeing are assessed in eight EU countries.

The long-terms effects are determined of the pandemic and the control measures on demand for (mental) health services in health registers in Sweden, Lombardy and Barcelona. Further, the scalable WHO stepped care programmes adapted for COVID-19 will be implemented and evaluated both in frontline workers and vulnerable groups.

RESPOND provides recommendations within 3 months on vulnerability factors for developing poor mental health resulting from current containment and mitigation measures. Further lessons learnt and evidence-based policy recommendations will be made available during the project’s lifetime through Policy Briefs in month 6, 12, 18, 24 and 36 for immediate consideration and use by all EU member states.

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Pan-European Response to the ImpactS of COVID-19 and future Pandemics and Epidemics

The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic has been deep and wide. In spite of unprecedented efforts to understand the COVID-19 disease and its causative virus SARS-CoV-2, months after the emergence of the first local case in Europe (San Matteo hospital, Pavia, 21st February 2020) significant knowledge gaps persist. While social and natural scientists managed to develop new research and shed light on the dynamics of the outbreak and the most effective possible containment measures, governments have been increasingly faced with the need to adopt urgent decisions.

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Against this background, PERISCOPE plans to contribute to a dramatically deeper understanding of the dynamics of the outbreak, by means of an intense multi-disciplinary research, both theoretical and experimental, and the consideration of different viewpoints: clinic and epidemiologic; humanistic and psychologic; socio-economic and political; statistical and technological.

The overarching objectives of PERISCOPE are to map and analyse the unintended impacts of the COVID-19 outbreak; develop solutions and guidance for policymakers and health authorities on how to mitigate the impact of the outbreak; enhance Europe’s preparedness for future similar events; and reflect on the future multi-level governance in the health as well as other domains affected by the outbreak. In pursuing this objective, PERISCOPE sheds new light on the unintended and indirect consequences of the outbreak and the related government responses, with the intention to preserve evidence-based policymaking by collecting an unprecedented amount of data and information on the social, economic and behavioural consequences of the current pandemic. At the same time, PERISCOPE will produce new information on the conditions that led to the impact of the pandemic, the differences in “policy mix” adopted at the national level in EU and associated countries, and the behavioural impacts of both the outbreak and the policies adopted.

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Non-intended health, economic and social effects of the COVID-19 epidemic control decisions: Lessons from SHARE (SHARE-COVID19)

The non-intended consequences of the epidemic control decisions to contain the COVID-19 pandemic are huge and affect the well-being of European citizens in terms of economics, social relationships and health: Europe is experiencing the largest recession since WWII; social contacts have been interrupted; people avoid seeking medical treatment in fear of infection.

The overarching objective of this project is to understand these non-intended consequences and to devise improved health, economic and social policies. In our policy recommendations, we strive to make healthcare systems and societies in the EU more resilient to pandemics in terms of prevention, protection and treatment of the population 50+, a most vulnerable part of the population.

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The project aims to identify healthcare inequalities before, during and after the pandemic; to understand the lockdown effects on health and health behaviours; to analyse labour market implications of the lockdown; to assess the impacts of pandemic and lockdown on income and wealth inequality; to mitigate the effects of epidemic control decisions on social relationships; to optimise future epidemic control measures by taking the geographical patterns of the disease and their relationship with social patterns into account; and to better manage housing and living arrangements choices between independence, co-residence or institutionalisation.

The project pursues a transdisciplinary and internationally comparative approach by exploiting the data sources of the SHARE research infrastructure. It covers all EU MS. The project’s team represents medicine, public health, economics and sociology and has worked together since the creation of SHARE. It is experienced in translating data analysis into concrete policy advice. The project’s policy recommendation are targeted at policy makers in the Commission and in national ministries as well as at national and international NGOs and social organisations.

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RESISTIRE
Responding to Outbreaks through Co-creative Inclusive Equality Strategies social organisations.

RESISTIRÉ – funded under the EU Horizon 2020 call Advancing knowledge for clinical and public health responses to the 2019-nCoV epidemic – contributes to the reduction of gendered and intersectional inequalities arising from COVID-19 policy responses and creates innovative operational tools to address inequalities. It is designed to achieve its results through multi-disciplinary research insights, cross-sectoral co-creation, solution development and a wide dissemination strategy. The project will provide in-depth knowledge and understanding of existing problems, as well as current and future priorities and solutions.

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The aim is (1) to understand the impact of COVID-19 policy responses on behavioural, social and economic inequalities in the EU27, Serbia, Turkey and the UK on the basis of a conceptual gender+ framework, and (2) to design, devise and pilot policy solutions and social innovations to be deployed by policymakers, stakeholders and actors in different policy domains.

RESISTIRE applies a three-cycle approach, combining quantitative and qualitative research with co-creation. The process is repeated every 6 months, each cycle producing operational results and integrating insights from the previous one. Each cycle involves:

Extensive mapping of policy and societal responses to COVID-19, secondary survey data, workshops with civil society, interviews with public authorities, and individual narratives collected from precarious and vulnerable groups (n=780), translated into operational insights.

Development of adequate responses and operational tools from a holistic perspective, with a co-design approach involving multiple stakeholders, with recommendations for actions for policymakers, stakeholders and actors in the field.

Launch of pilot actions to demonstrate the potential impact of a range of proposed solutions.

Dissemination of knowledge, development of policy recommendations and empowerment of stakeholders to exploit project results.

RESISTIRE relies on the vast experiences of a strong multi-disciplinary consortium of ten European research, innovation, and design partners, with a well-established network of healthcare stakeholders.

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