The novel Coronavirus (nCoV) epidemic in 2019 -2020 has recently emerged. The route of transmission is not totally known, although it is known that it can spread from person to person, and local health care systems may be ill-equipped to handle a large-scale outbreak. Furthermore, misconceptions and misinformation about the disease often spreads rapidly in such epidemics. In previous epidemics mental health and psychosocial support (MHPSS) has been identified as a key priority. MHPSS ensures the well-being of the affected populations, and counter-acts the threats to public health and safety that fear, stigmatization and misconception pose. Access to information, knowledge about the disease and how it spreads, make it easier for the affected to feel supported and calm, and to comply with instructions. Furthermore, psychosocial support to staff and volunteers help the operation as work conditions are extremely stressful.
This briefing note provides background knowledge on the MHPSS aspects related to nCoV and suggests MHPSS activities that can be implemented. The messages can be helpful for those in contact with patients or relatives and feel the strain of working and living during the epidemic. The briefing is aimed both at those working in any capacity with those affected by nCoV and for the MHPSS responders who implement MHPSS activities and interventions for everyone affected.