Cambridge University Press, Bjpsych Open, 5(7), 2021
Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) was first recognised in December 2019. The subsequent pandemic has caused 4.3 million deaths and affected the lives of billions. It has increased psychosocial risk factors for mental illness including fear, social isolation and financial insecurity and is likely to lead to an economic recession. COVID-19 is associated with a high rate of neuropsychiatric sequelae. The long-term effects of the pandemic on mental health remain uncertain but could be marked, with some predicting an increased demand for psychiatric services for years to come. COVID-19 has turned a spotlight on mental health for politicians, policy makers and the public and provides an opportunity to make mental health a higher public health priority. We review longstanding reasons for prioritising mental health and the urgency brought by the COVID-19 pandemic, and highlight strategies to improve mental health and reduce the psychiatric fallout of the pandemic.