The COVID-19 pandemic has had an unprecedented influence on the global economy and population health. While the WHO and the scientific community have alerted for adverse mental health impact of COVID-19 and called for multinational research, the existing literature is largely limited by relatively small studies with various design flaws. Therefore, vigorous, well-designed studies with complete, long-term follow-up of high-risk groups including COVID-19 patients, their families and frontline workers are imperative for a comprehensive understanding of the mental health impact of the pandemic.
The Nordic-Baltic national registries and biobank resources provide a unique opportunity to gain critical insight into the interplay between mental and somatic health during the COVID-19 pandemic. The COVIDMENT consortium leverages an extensive research experience and infrastructure from ongoing collaborations between four Nordic countries and Estonia, including national registry resources (est. >23 million individuals; of which >70.000 with confirmed COVID-19 infection), biobanks (est. >500.000 individuals) and new COVID-19 cohorts with questionnaire data (est. > 250.000 individuals), to significantly advance current knowledge of mental morbidity trajectories in the COVID-19 pandemic. This program will address the following specific aims: 1) The role of preexisting psychiatric disorders in subsequent risk and progression of a COVID-19 infection. 2) The impact of COVID-19 on short and long-term psychiatric sequel among COVID-19 patients, their families and frontline workers. 3) The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on population mental health by the varying national mitigating responses and corresponding COVID-19 related mortality rates across 4 Nordic countries and Estonia.
This research program will offer novel insights into the role of psychiatric factors in COVID-19 etiology and health consequences. Given our unique health registers and biobanks together with the new COVID-19 cohorts, we have a worldwide unique opportunity to understand the roles of mental disorders and associated somatic conditions in COVID-19. In order for Nordic healthcare systems to rapidly adjust to changed population healthcare needs in the aftermath of the pandemic and to the next societal disasters, we need state-of-the-art studies of population mental health to identify vulnerable populations and the extent of their problems.