Smartphones should be used to monitor the “profound” impact that the coronavirus pandemic could be having on people’s mental health, researchers say.
Psychiatrists and psychologists believe that support could then be tailored to specific groups, such as children and front-line health workers.
Mind, the mental health charity, said people were already struggling to access the support they needed.
Writing in The Lancet, twenty-four leading mental-health experts said they want widespread “moment-to-moment” monitoring of the mental health of the population.
Professor Rory O’Connor, one of the paper’s authors, from the University of Glasgow, said: “Increased social isolation, loneliness, health anxiety, stress and an economic downturn are a perfect storm to harm people’s mental health and wellbeing.”
He said doing nothing would risk a rise in conditions such as anxiety and depression, and more people turning to alcohol, drugs and gambling, as well as other consequences, such as homelessness.
An online survey run by the Academy of Medical Sciences and carried out in late March by UK charity MQ highlighted the concerns of over 2,000 respondents about accessing support and services during the pandemic, as well as the fear that their existing health problems might get worse.
Another, of 1,099 members of the public, revealed worries about the effects of social isolation and financial difficulties created by the response to the crisis.