PsychPearls: Identifying At-Risk Patients During the Pandemic


Dr Morganstein, Chair of the American Psychiatric Association Committee on the Psychiatric Dimensions of Disaster, talks about special measures that psychiatrists should take for their patients during this time of uncertainty.


Suicidal thinking and behaviors as well as other mental health conditions should be managed as they would at any other time. Psychiatrists should certainly encourage people to stay on medications, and this also means avoiding waiting until the last minute to get a refill.

Psychiatrists might also review their patient records to identify patients that may be a risk for worsening symptoms during the pandemic such as people with:

• active or poorly controlled illness concerns
• delusions
• obsessive-compulsive thoughts and behaviors
• previous trauma
• stressor disorders
• anxiety
• substance use

Additional contact with these patients perhaps using telehealth as needed might identify people who need additional assistance before a crisis occurs. There are likely to be challenges with the use of impatient facilities as a result of COVID-19 and proactively taking extra steps to help patients maintain their functioning and avoid having to enter health care facilities will be a very important health intervention.

Transcript edited for clarity. -Ed

Have more COVID concerns and clinical tips? Email us at We may share your stories, queries, or thoughts in a future editorial or even as a standalone piece. Check out our COVID-19 Resource Page for Psychiatrists.

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