Major European research grant for mental health research during COVID-19 pandemic

VU clinical psychologist Marit Sijbrandij and her research team have received more than six million euros from the European Union for the study “Improving the Preparedness of Health Systems to Reduce Mental Health and Psychosocial Concerns resulting from the COVID-19 Pandemic”.

The RE­SPOND pro­ject is one of four pro­jects se­lected by the EU to in­ves­ti­gate the long-term be­hav­ioral and health ef­fects of the COVID-19 pan­demic. In the pro­ject, four­teen part­ners from France, Italy, Spain, Bel­gium, Ger­many, Swe­den and Aus­tralia work to­gether with the WHO, with Vrije Uni­ver­siteit Am­s­ter­dam in the lead. In ad­di­tion to Si­jbrandij, pro­fes­sors of Clin­i­cal Psy­chol­ogy Pim Cui­jpers and An­ne­mieke van Straten are also in­volved, and pro­fes­sor of Psy­chi­a­try Brenda Pen­ninx of Am­s­ter­dam UMC, lo­ca­tion VUmc.

The team will study the ef­fects of the lock­down mea­sures as a re­sult of the COVID-19 pan­demic on the well-be­ing and psy­cho­log­i­cal health of in­di­vid­ual cit­i­zens over the next three years. They an­a­lyze a large num­ber of in­ter­na­tional lon­gi­tu­di­nal co­hort stud­ies, as well as the health reg­is­ters of the au­thor­i­ties in Swe­den, North­ern Italy and North­ern Spain. They also in­ves­ti­gate to what ex­tent com­pli­ance or non-com­pli­ance with the lock­down mea­sures is re­lated to spe­cific char­ac­ter­is­tics of in­di­vid­u­als and psy­cho­log­i­cal dis­tress.

In ad­di­tion, the ef­fects are in­ves­ti­gated of new short-term pro­grams that can re­duce psy­cho­log­i­cal dis­tress such as anx­i­ety and de­pres­sion in peo­ple dur­ing the COVID-19 cri­sis. The team fo­cuses on vul­ner­a­ble groups such as health work­ers, as well as young peo­ple, the el­derly, peo­ple who have lost their jobs, and peo­ple in pre­car­i­ous cir­cum­stances such as mi­grants. Dig­i­tal tools are used to re­duce stress com­plaints, and peo­ple who need ad­di­tional sup­port can use in­di­vid­ual in­ter­ven­tions that can also be of­fered re­motely via “tele­con­fer­enc­ing”, if the lock­down mea­sures do not allow con­tact with a ther­a­pist in real life. The pro­ject will start in Jan­u­ary 2021, and the first re­sults are ex­pected six months later.

Marit Si­jbrandij is as­so­ci­ate pro­fes­sor of clin­i­cal psy­chol­ogy and di­rec­tor of the World Health Or­ga­ni­za­tion (WHO) Col­lab­o­rat­ing Cen­ter for Re­search and Dis­sem­i­na­tion of Psy­cho­log­i­cal In­ter­ven­tions. She is head of the Global and Cross-cul­tural Men­tal Health re­search group at VU Am­s­ter­dam, De­part­ment of Clin­i­cal, Neuro- and De­vel­op­men­tal Psy­chol­ogy.

Source: Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam


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