Public mental health outpatient service at the time of the COVID-19 pandemic: did we have any other choice?

Lorenzo Pelizza 1, Simona Pupo 2

1 Department of Mental Health and Pathological Addiction, Azienda USL di Parma, Italy; 2 Anesthesia and Resuscitation Service, Surgery Department, Azienda Ospedaliero-Universitaria di Parma, Italy

DOI 10.36148/2284-0249-398

As of May 28, 33 072 deaths and 231 139 confirmed cases due to the COVID-19 epidemic make Italy one of the most affected countries in the world. On 7th March 2020, the national authority for welfare ordered a block on all but urgent outpatient services (i.e. dialysis, chemiotherapy), while maintaining mental health care activities. This has confirmed that mental health care services are considered as fundamental services to the community. However, Italian Departments of Mental Health (DMHs), agreed by the management of local public health care services, recommended closure of second-level outpatient programs (e.g. for eating disorders, early psychosis, autism spectrum disorders, severe learning disorders), suggesting to implement phone calls and video conference-based visits only for emergencies or specific urgent patient requests.

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