Mental Health and Remote Working

[Project status: Completed]

Project summary

The MHRU has conducted a large programme of study on the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on mental health care and people living with mental health conditions. This programme began with rapid projects conducted during the early stages of the pandemic, including:

  1. A framework synthesis of papers and published “grey literature” on the current and potential impacts of COVID-19 on mental health services and the people who use and work in them, and on what has worked and not worked in mitigating these impacts.
  2. An online questionnaire for mental health staff from all sectors about the impact of COVID-19 on services and the success or otherwise of innovations and adaptations to manage these impacts.
  3. A qualitative study conducted jointly with the UKRI Loneliness and Social Isolation in Mental Health Group to understand impacts of the pandemic and any potential strategies to mitigate negative impacts, from the perspective of people with lived experience of mental health problems.

We then conducted a further stage of the programme which involved a further three projects:

  1. A systematic review to explore how mental health care was delivered by mental health services and the use of telemental health globally during the early stages of the pandemic.
  2. A rapid realist review of ‘what works for whom in telemental health care: a collaborative project involving stakeholders with lived experience of mental health conditions, carers, clinicians, and policy makers.
  3. A systematic review of the implementation of telemental health (both before and during the pandemic), which categorised types of pre-planned strategies of implementation according to an existing framework and explored associated implementation outcomes.

Engagements and events:


  1. A review of early impacts of the pandemic on people with pre-existing mental health conditions and services they use, and to identify individual and service-level strategies adopted to manage these.
  2. Staff reports regarding the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic in its early weeks on mental health care and mental health service users in the UK using a mixed methods online survey.
  3. Qualitative stuty to explore experiences of loneliness, as well as what contributes to or helps address it, among a diverse sample of adults living with mental health problems in the UK
  4. A qualitative interview study exploring experiences of the pandemic for people with pre-existing mental health conditions
  5. A qualitative interview study which sought to understand how the experiences of people in the UK with pre-existing mental health conditions had developed during the course of the COVID-19 pandemic.
  6. A collaborative framework analysis of data from semi-structured interviews with a sample of people already experiencing mental health problems prior to the pandemic
  7. A systematic review to investigate the adoption and impacts of telemental health approaches during the COVID-19 pandemic, and facilitators and barriers to optimal implementation
  8. The aim of this rapid realist review was to develop theory about which telemental health approaches work, or do not work, for whom, in which contexts and through what mechanisms
  9. A systematic review which aimed to identify investigations of pre-planned strategies intended to achieve or improve effective and sustained implementation of telemental health approaches, and to evaluate how different strategies influence implementation outcomes