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Table 3 Recommendations relevant to researchers and research funders by available resources during the pandemic

From: Roadmap to strengthen global mental health systems to tackle the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic

Recommendations relevant researchers and research funders Low resource settings with few mental health resources and infrastructure Medium resource settings with some mental health resources and infrastructure
(includes recommendations in addition to those in low resource settings)
High resource settings with good mental health resources and infrastructure
(includes recommendations in addition to those in low and medium resource settings)
Develop research to improve information systems *Identify key mental health indicators that can be tracked over time through government applications/websites, and are built into the tracking system for COVID infection; non-governmental organizations too to include such indicators in their activities
*Enable community health workers with simple questionnaires to capture stressful risk factors, and common symptoms pertaining to any mental disorders based on the mhGAP screening application or other similar tool
*Develop a website for such data to be automatically uploaded and analysed
*Besides basic mental health related data, more details are gathered around access and use of mental health services and stigma perceptions in the face of the pandemic
*The health websites should enable automated data analyses and report generation filtered by predefined criteria
*Health information systems are linked to detailed clinical data related to COVID infection and other risk factors
*The system allows triangulation of data from different sources and linking with other data to provide a rich matrix of data to do sophisticated analyses using machine learning
Develop research on epidemiology, neurobiological effects, community-based and special population-based interventions, linkages with environmental and social sciences *Conduct research to understand the epidemiology of mental health impact of the COVID pandemic across different population groups, especially those at increased risk; understand correlated factors and account for non-health related factors that are also impacting mental health
Develop interventions to manage the mental health impact of the pandemic using community-based approaches based on implementation science principles
Ascertain factors that determine adequate mental health service use during and after the current pandemic is over
*More resource intensive research conducted that covers larger geographical areas and provides more robust data both from an epidemiology and scalable intervention perspective, including those involving vulnerable populations
*Larger randomized studies are implemented to generate robust data that will not only benefit current knowledge related to the impact of COVID infection on mental health but also inform future programmes and policies
*Existing electronic databases allow intersectoral research to assess multiple dimensions related to the pandemic that affect mental health
*Use social media usage analytics to assess stress and mental illness using machine learning tools
Research focuses on understanding treatment outcomes to specific medications and its correlation to mental health
*Neurobiological research into the impact of COVID 19 on brain including early childhood development and brain neuroplasticity should be planned
*Behavioural research explores mental health impact of the pandemic due to physical distancing, loneliness, stigma, poverty, hunger, among other issues
*Machine learning and research involving artificial intelligence uses correlated datasets and modelling to forecast mental health impact of the pandemic; research has implications for future predictive models too
Longer term effects of the stress on human psychology can be conducted and interventions to mitigate such can be implemented
Develop innovative solutions to improve mental health systems; support technology-enabled solutions to support service delivery; identify strategies to enable more efficient supply chain logistics models for medicines; use of social media to deliver interventions on mental health promotion *Develop technology-enabled solutions to conduct research and gather data avoiding in-person contact as much as feasible, while ensuring appropriate data security and privacy
*Identify culturally relevant evidence-based applications to gather data on mental health outcomes and increase access to care
Conduct health systems research to investigate how supply of psychotropic medications at community level can be accomplished
Use social media platforms to not only link researchers but also develop interventions based on use of social media
*Better ability to link secondary data from other sources with primary data using big data analytics *Service use involves digital technology, interactive voice messages, video games, virtual reality
*Advanced methodologies using artificial intelligence driven analytics allow development of risk profiles in real time and identify predictive models
  1. *Recommendations that are particularly relevant for managing mental health related problems during COVID infection