The outbreak and spread of a novel coronavirus (COVID-19) has been devastating globally, including for much of the Asia Pacific region. During this unprecedented global health emergency, we recognize that the mental health effects of COVID-19 will be profound. Healthcare workers and others on the frontlines, including those providing essential services, are working under extreme stress and threat to the health and safety of themselves and their families. Vulnerable people, including people experiencing homelessness, migrants, and people with living with existing mental health and substance use conditions are at high risk and may struggle to access care. Millions of people are facing job loss and economic vulnerability. The economic and social impact of this pandemic will be far reaching and long-term.

The APEC Digital Hub recognizes the urgent need to provide mental health support and resources across the region, including sharing best practices for promoting and supporting mental health during this troubling time. The Digital Hub executive is exploring options to support member economies to share existing mental health initiatives related to the COVID-19 pandemic. As you will see below, we would also like to call on our membership to collaborate on the Digital Hub’s response to this pandemic. We acknowledge that this is an exceptionally busy and stressful time for all, but believe that it is imperative to provide a coordinated response to support enhanced mental health promotion and support across the APEC region. We wish all our members health and strength during this very challenging time.

Disaster Resilience and Trauma Working Group Response to COVID-19 Pandemic

The APEC Digital Hub for Mental Health calls on members to participate in the Disaster Resilience and Trauma Working Group, with specific emphasis on the devastating mental health implications of the COVID-19 pandemic. We encourage experts from across the APEC region to participate in shaping the Digital Hub’s response, including sharing best practices, identifying gaps and developing a forward-thinking strategy to support mental health and economic recovery in the region.

Resources: COVID-19 and Mental Health

IASC MHPSS Briefing Note (2020). Overarching principles and guidelines for response and globally recommended activities

WHO Mental Health Considerations During COVID-19 Outbreak

UN Women and Translators without Borders (2020). COVID-19: How to include marginalized and vulnerable people in risk communication and community engagement

Mental Health Commission of Canada: The Working Mind COVID-19 Self-Care and Resilience Guide

Mental Health Commission of Canada: Mental Health First Aid Self-Care and Resilience Guide

Xiang et al., Lancet Psychiatry, February 4, 2020. Timely mental health care for the 2019 novel coronavirus outbreak is urgently needed (Co-authored by Prof. Chee Ng of the Digital Hub Executive Team.)