Focus on Mental Health During the Coronavirus (COVID-19) Pandemic: Applying Learnings from the Past Outbreaks

The 2019 novel coronavirus (COVID-19) has gained global attention after it originated from China at the end of 2019, and later turned into pandemic as it affected about 118,000 in 114 countries by March 11, 2020. By March 13, 2020, it was declared a national emergency in the United States as the number of COVID-19 cases, and the death toll rose exponentially. To contain the spread of the disease, the world scientist community came together. However, the unpreparedness of the nations, even with the advanced medical sciences and resources, has failed to address the mental health aspect amongst the public, as all efforts are focused on understanding the epidemiology, clinical features, transmission patterns, and management of COVID-19 pneumonia. Our efforts in this review are to evaluate and study similar outbreaks from the past to understand its adverse impact on mental health, implement adequate steps to tackle and provide a background to physicians and healthcare workers at the time of such outbreaks to apply psychological first aid.