The University of Regina’s Dr. Gordon Asmundson, psychology professor and registered doctoral psychologist, has launched a website for individuals facing stress and anxiety related to COVID-19.
The website, www.coronaphobia.org, was developed with the Psychology of Pandemics (PsyPan) Network which is comprised of mental health scientists, clinicians, and trainees from universities throughout Canada and the United States. Dr. Steven Taylor from the University of British Columbia and Dr. Asmundson are co-directors of the network.
Visitors to the website can take a confidential self-assessment to see where they score in terms of COVID-related distress or depression and anxiety when compared to the general population. Once they complete the self-assessment, they can see where they score on an interactive COVID Stress Scale and get tailored recommendations for how to best look after their mental health based on their results. The site also has a list of available mental health resources for the public and for professionals.
“Given the escalating number of COVID-19 cases in the United States and other parts of the world, as well as the potential for a second wave of infection in the future, we anticipate considerable and continuing stress in some segments of the population,” says Asmundson. “Our research regarding the mental health impacts of COVID-19 and strategies for treatment are still a work in progress; but, the launch of our website provides one more tool for disseminating information and strategies to help the public and professionals manage mental health challenges related to or exacerbated by COVID-19.”
In March, Dr. Asmundson, who also serves as editor-in-chief of the Journal of Anxiety Disorders and Clinical Psychology Review, was awarded $400,000 in funding as part of the Canadian Institutes of Health Research’s Canadian 2019 Novel Coronavirus COVID-19 Rapid Research Funding Opportunity. The Saskatchewan Health Research Foundation also provided funding to support development of the interactive website. The website is part of the third in a series of studies in the project. In the first two studies, Dr. Asmundson and Dr. Taylor developed, validated, and published the COVID Stress Scales. In addition, the research team has published a paper that identifies COVID Stress Syndrome, describing it as a state of increased mental health distress occurring in response to the current COVID-19 pandemic. This paper, along with the COVID Stress Scales, are just two of the helpful resources included on the site.
Dr. Asmundson and the research team plan to add additional features to the website. This includes a personalized list of mental health resources for individuals based on the results of their self-assessments and access to online therapy specifically tailored to COVID-19-related distress and coping.