Advice for Treating Schizophrenia During COVID-19


Bryce Reynolds, MD, and Hannah Phillips-Hall, MSN, PMHNP-BC, share their advice for community psychiatrists treating schizophrenia during the coronavirus pandemic.

Bryce Reynolds, MD: I have 1 last question for you, Hannah, before we close. Tell me your advice for community providers treating schizophrenia during COVID-19 [coronavirus disease 2019].

Hannah Phillips-Hall, MSN, PMHNP-BC: Don’t overly focus on COVID-19. I know that may not sound like good health advice. Obviously, be safe, be wise, wash your hands, wear PPE [personal protective equipment], and all those things. But I have done better in the care I’m providing to my patients by not overly focusing on it. Of course, acknowledging that it exists and normalizing the experience is necessary. But I’m not poking the subject matter if it’s not relevant to our conversation. I want things to seem as normal for my patients as possible. The less disruption, the better. That is my 1 thing with COVID-19. I’m not choosing to view this as my new normal. It is what it is for now, and we’ll deal with it later. Maybe that’s my way of coping.

Bryce Reynolds, MD: I agree. It’s just 1 part of my conversation, and a small part in which I talk about safety and what steps they need to do to maintain safety. Otherwise, what we’re talking about is their functioning overall, including their housing, school, and socialization. I focus on the things that really matter to them. For the most part, COVID-19 is not the most major issue in their lives, and I’m not going to focus on it if they’re not focusing on it.

The other is—and this is an offshoot of what you’re saying—consider the tools you have available to keep yourself and the patients safe, and effectively treat them. You can use long-acting injectables to monitor adherence and to decrease that time to relapse, as the studies have already shown.

What I always say to my patients, and what I always think about in terms of what we need to do, is that it’s good to involve 2 things when we’re treating our patients. All it takes is a little compassion and using the right tools. The use of a long-acting injectable is absolutely 1 of those right tools.

Hannah, I appreciate this discussion that you and I have had. I want to say to the audience that both of us hope you have found this information to be valuable to your clinical practice. Thank you for watching this Psychiatric Times® case-based sight perspectives program.

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