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Wednesday, August 12, 2020

Mental Health and Clinical Psychological Science in the Time of COVID-19: Challenges, Opportunities, and a Call to Action

June Gruber et al.
American Psychologist. 
Advance online publication.


COVID-19 presents significant social, economic, and medical challenges. Because COVID-19 has already begun to precipitate huge increases in mental health problems, clinical psychological science must assert a leadership role in guiding a national response to this secondary crisis. In this article, COVID-19 is conceptualized as a unique, compounding, multidimensional stressor that will create a vast need for intervention and necessitate new paradigms for mental health service delivery and training. Urgent challenge areas across developmental periods are discussed, followed by a review of psychological symptoms that likely will increase in prevalence and require innovative solutions in both science and practice. Implications for new research directions, clinical approaches, and policy issues are discussed to highlight the opportunities for clinical psychological science to emerge as an updated, contemporary field capable of addressing the burden of mental illness and distress in the wake of COVID-19 and beyond.


Concluding Comments

Clinical psychological science is needed more than ever in response to both the acute and enduring psychological effects of COVID-19 (Adhanom Ghebreyesus, 2020). This article is intended to inspire dialogue surrounding the challenges the field faces and how it must adapt to meet the mental health demands of a rapidly evolving psychological landscape. Of course, sustained change will require strong advocacy to ensure that mental health research funding is available to understand and address mental health challenges following COVID-19. To secure a leadership role, clinical psychological scientists must be prepared to raise their voices not only within scientific outlets, but also in public discussions on the airwaves (radio, cable news), alongside colleagues in other scientific fields. Sustained effort, collaboration with other disciplines, and unity within psychology will be necessary to address the multifaceted impacts of COVID-19 on humanity.