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Telepsychiatry and other cutting edge technologies in Covid-19 pandemic: bridging the distance in mental health assistance
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  • Francesco Di Carlo,
  • Antonella Sociali,
  • Elena Picutti,
  • Mauro Pettorruso,
  • Federica Vellante,
  • Valeria Verrastro,
  • Giovanni Martinotti,
  • Massimo di Giannantonio
Francesco Di Carlo
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Antonella Sociali
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Elena Picutti
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Mauro Pettorruso
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Federica Vellante
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Valeria Verrastro
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Giovanni Martinotti
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Massimo di Giannantonio
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Peer review status:UNDER REVIEW

20 May 2020Submitted to International Journal of Clinical Practice
21 May 2020Submission Checks Completed
21 May 2020Assigned to Editor
26 May 2020Reviewer(s) Assigned
29 May 2020Review(s) Completed, Editorial Evaluation Pending
01 Jul 20201st Revision Received
02 Jul 2020Reviewer(s) Assigned
02 Jul 2020Submission Checks Completed
02 Jul 2020Assigned to Editor
02 Jul 2020Review(s) Completed, Editorial Evaluation Pending

Abstract

BACKGROUND: Initially identified in December 2019 in China, the 2019 Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) is now affecting more than 200 countries and territories around the world. Given the current unavailability of an effective medical cure for COVID-19, a public health strategy of reduced social contact and shelter in place has been adopted worldwide. Nonetheless, social distancing and isolation could also represent risk factors for mental disorders, determining loneliness, reduced social support and under-detection of mental health needs. Along with this, social distancing determines an insurmountable obstacle for direct access to psychiatric care services. The pandemic generates the urgent need for integrating technology into innovative models of mental healthcare. AIMS: In this paper we discuss the potential role of telepsychiatry and other cutting-edge technologies in the management of mental health assistance. We narratively review the literature to examine advantages and risks related to the massive application of these new therapeutic settings, along with the possible limitations and ethical concerns. RESULTS: Telemental health services are particularly feasible and appropriate for the support of patients, family members and health-care providers during this COVID-19 pandemic. The integration of telepsychiatry with other technological innovations (e.g., mobile apps, virtual reality, big data and artificial intelligence) opens up interesting future perspectives for the improvement of mental health assistance. CONCLUSION: The COVID-19 pandemic situation shows us how vast the amount of untreated mental illnesses can be. The pandemic crisis can contribute to spread, among numerous mental health professionals, the knowledge of the possibilities offered by the digital era.