The effects of severe COVID often continue after the patient leaves hospital. Up to one-third of COVID patients admitted to hospital develop serious mental health consequences, including depression, anxiety, PTSD, and cognitive problems. Additionally, complex multifactorial presentations known as 'long COVID' are being recognised as very significant and distressing. Given the scale of the COVID pandemic, this increased health burden will have a significant impact upon Scotland's mental health services.
Mental health services in Scotland are not currently configured to meet these needs, nor do they have the capacity. The mental health consequences of COVID are interwoven with its physical complications, making specialty-based follow-up services not well suited to meet the needs of these complex issues.
The rapid creation of a network of COVID mental health clinicians across Scotland, fully integrated into bespoke, multidisciplinary rehabilitation teams, will allow Scotland to make best use of existing resources to meet this need.
This should be supported by the establishment of national specialist advisory group, the development of a clear and personalised national digital platform for COVID recovery, and the expansion of peer support.
Scotland has excellent mental health resources. These recommendations will enable them to be used in an agile and person-centred way to allow early access to expert care for patients recovering from this complex and new condition.