Impact of the COVID-19 Pandemic on the Registration and Care Provision of Mental Health Problems in General Practice [Vandamme et al. 2023]

The academic journal ‘JMIR Public Health and Surveillance’ published a study by Vandamme and colleagues on the impact of the COVID-19 crisis on the registration and care provision of mental health problems in Belgium. Using the Flemish general practice morbidity registry (INTEGO), the prepandemic mental health care provision (February 2018-January 2020) was compared with the mental health care provision during the COVID-19 outbreak (February 2020-January 2022). Care provision was investigated in patients with an acute mental problem, patients with an incident chronic mental problem, and patients with a prevalent chronic mental problem. 

The results indicated that the incidence of registered mental health problems fluctuated during the COVID-19 period. Especially during the first pandemic wave, registration of mental health problems was significantly lower compared to the prepandemic period. Registrations for depression and anxiety increased, whereas the incidence of registered eating disorders, substance abuse, and personality problems decreased. Care provision for patients with mental health problems was higher in older patients, male patients, patients living in small cities, patients with lower socioeconomic status, native Belgian patients, and patients with acute rather than chronic mental health problems. Compared to prepandemic care provision, a reduction of 10% was observed in people with a low SES.

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HELICON is funded by the Belgian Federal Science Policy (BELSPO) through the BRAIN-be 2.0 (2018-2023) programme.

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Prof. dr. Brecht Devleesschauwer

Sciensano, Department of Epidemiology and Public Health, Service Health Information