JCPP Editorial: Volume 62, Issue 07, July 2021

Senior Editorial Assistant for ACAMH.

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Editorial: ‘No pain – No gain’ – Towards the inclusion of mental health costs in balanced “lockdown” decision-making during health pandemics

Edmund J.S. Sonuga-Barke


Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic in early 2020, many governments have implemented national or regional lockdowns to slow the spread of infection. The widely anticipated negative impact these interventions would have on families, including on their mental health, were not included in decision models. The purpose of this editorial is, therefore, to stimulate debate by considering some of the barriers that have stopped governments setting the benefits of lockdown against, in particular, mental health costs during this process and so to make possible a more balanced approach going forward. First, evidence that lockdown causes mental health problems needs to be stronger. Natural experimental studies will play an essential role in providing such evidence. Second, innovative health economic approaches that allow the costs and benefits of lockdown to be compared directly are required. Third, we need to develop public health information strategies that allow more nuanced and complex messages that balance lockdown’s costs and benefits to be communicated. These steps should be accompanied by a major public consultation/engagement campaign aimed at strengthening the publics’ understanding of science and exploring beliefs about how to strike the appropriate balance between costs and benefits in public health intervention decisions.

We hope you enjoy the full editorial of this Issue, which is free on the Wiley Online Library.

Professor Edmund Sonuga-Barke

Edmund Sonuga-Barke is currently Professor of Developmental Psychology, Psychiatry and Neuroscience working in the Department of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry at the Institute of Psychology, Psychiatry and Neuroscience, King’s College London. He also holds Visiting Chairs at Ghent UniversityAarhus University and the University of Sussex. He is Editor in Chief of the Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry. His work integrates Developmental Psychopathology and Neuroscience perspectives to employing basic developmental science approaches to study the pathogenesis of neuro-developmental and mental health conditions; their underlying genetic and environmental risks, mediating brain mechanisms and developmental outcomes. He has a particular interest in ADHD and related disorders. In 2016, Prof Sonuga-Barke was elected a Fellow of the Academy of Medical Sciences.

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