COVID-19: why mental health is the future of clinical trials



‘Stay home, save lives.’ The motto of the COVID-19 crisis has worked miracles for raising public awareness. People all over the world are playing their part to ensure their healthcare staff is fit and able to treat the worst affected by the pandemic. As the President of the World Health Organisation (WHO), Dr. Tedros Adhanom has said repeatedly:


"The fight against the coronavirus crisis has well and truly been ‘a global effort’ that has seen social distancing measures form a robust armor against the disease's most fatal attacks."

Yet, despite the tremendous effort, this simple approach, unfortunately, seems to have forgotten the inherent complexity of the social animals being forced to self-isolate. So, amid a global epidemic, what happens when you start to feel a bit stir-crazy, or, in some cases when your safe haven becomes a personal prison? For the mass majority of us right now, our mental health is a top priority and, because of this, the health industry must prioritize research in this very area.


On the frontline


The fightback has already begun with several studies now well on their way to producing a clearer understanding of the strain of these troubling times on our mental health. A team from King’s College London has launched a repeated assessment of mental health during the pandemic (RAMP) that consists of a series of surveys targeting the drastic changes in lifestyle now felt by people in the UK. Anyone over the age of 16 who resides in Scotland, England, Wales, or Northern Ireland can participate; so, if these conditions apply to you, why not get involved and click here for a direct link to the study.


Fortunately, the current effort doesn’t start and stop with surveys on general public health. Groups who are most in need of mental health support, including special needs groups and carers, are now being closely observed to ensure that the right public policy is in place to support them. The Co-Space study run by researchers at the University of Oxford is looking into the support needed in families and carers of young children, with Ghent University’s survey concerning the impact of the pandemic on those with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD).


While these studies are doing an exceptional job of facing the crisis head-on, they’ve also managed to raise a critical flaw in mental health research: there is an evident lack of existing data. According to Dr. Rasenick of the University of Illinois, mental health research has become stagnant by a lack of comprehensive knowledge surrounding depression and the effects of antidepressants. Equally, a 2017 report by the World Psychiatric Association notes that ‘the overall quality of mental health care in the US has hardly improved’ since a similar report of 2006; with little improvement directly linked to a lack of systematic methods for measuring quality. Not only has there been a lack of successful research performed over the last ten years, but there are systemic issues that the industry must reevaluate moving forward.


What we can determine from the current studies and recent reports is that mental health research must be a priority for the health industry from now on. It is absolutely vital that more funding is produced and a wider awareness of clinical trials is achieved. Mental health experts need to ready themselves and their research for action when we emerge from isolation to find a changed, more self-aware world.


Need support now?


Here at Citruslabs, we know a thing or two about mental wellbeing as we’ve worked with many leading health organizations, such as the University of Texas, Washington University and the University of Glasgow, to successfully recruit for their clinical trials. Whether you’re looking to monitor your own mental health or start a full-scale clinical study, our resources are bound to help you do so.


For the individual:


Keep your brain and body healthy with our MindMate app. With over a million happy users and a thousand 5-star reviews on the Apple Store, our app has everything you need to know about mental stimulation, exercise, and nutrition for a healthy mind.


For the researcher:


Citruslabs is proud to produce industry-leading recruitment software, designed to optimize any clinical trial. Our patient recruitment dashboard takes the stress out of screening potential patients with a database of pre-screened, engaged candidates to call on. If that’s not enough, we’ve referred over 100,000 patients to research sites in the United States, Canada, Australia, and more.


Piqued your interest? Arrange a call from a member of our team, here.

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