I am writing today to update you on how WPA is addressing the COVID-19 pandemic and to provide further insights into how we are working to support our members as we all face this unprecedented global challenge.
As many of you will already be aware, just nine days after the World Health Organization (WHO) declared COVID-19 a global pandemic, WPA launched a resource library pulling together some of the many papers, commentary and tools that have been developed to support mental health needs. The library continues to grow daily. We have documents from trusted partners like the WHO and World Economic Forum as well as materials from our Member Societies and Sections. Thank you to those of you who have already contributed to the library; please continue to share the wonderful resources you are creating – the library is currently the most visited page on our website for good reason!
We know that many of you are already working diligently to support your own communities through seminars, webinars and the provision of guidelines and tools; and partnering with other societies to develop initiatives that reach more broadly across borders and across disciplines. At WPA, our role is to help you in your efforts in every way we can. We recently established a small Emergency Response Committee (ERC) to work with the Executive Committee and the Board to ensure a centralised and coordinated response to COVID-19.
In addition to our library of external resources, we are creating our own store of useful and useable materials relevant to COVID-19. This will include instruction manuals, position statements, protocols for the study of mental health consequences of COVID-19 (produced by member societies), descriptions of telepsychiatry schemes, and materials created to support healthcare staff working patients affected by COVID-19. Work is already underway on some of these items and on making them available to you in simple and immediate ways.
In addition to its search for funds that will help mental health work during the pandemic, WPA is creating an emergency fund to support specific activities by member societies in low-and-middle-income countries. Our goal is to help the immediate implementation of programs aiming to ease the impact of COVID-19 on people living with mental illnesses and to prevent mental health consequences of the pandemic in the general population.
Please keep in contact about what you are doing to respond to the COVID-19 emergency, and to share ideas and suggestions you have for how WPA can best support you in your endeavours. You are welcome to email me directly or to submit your feedback to our secretariat through our website.
Wishing you well in these challenging times,
Professor Helen Herrman AO