After the Pandemic: What Will the ‘New Normal’ Be in Psychiatry?

Psychiatrists foresee a new hybrid practice blending phone, video, and in-person visits driven by patient need and preference rather than payment policy.

“In the spring of 2020, COVID-19 devastated New York City, where I live and work,” recalled APA President-elect Vivian Pender, M.D., in an interview. “The sound of sirens was continuous day and night. We saw tents erected in Central Park to take care of the sick unable to get care in the hospital. We saw the stacks of bodies in white bags lined up in a mass grave. Many people left the city; those who stayed were told to quarantine. Every night at 7 p.m., people came out for five minutes and banged pots to cheer on the health care workers starting their daily shifts.

“Now we know that the majority of those who died were members of minorities and people of color,” Pender said. “It was a new virus, it was global, and there was no central, coordinated response.”

More than a year later—later than anyone suspected back in March 2020—there is a shared sense of emerging finally from an extraordinary global experience of pandemic, economic devastation, and—in the United States—racial reckoning (see box). Though masks and physical distancing may be with us still for much of the year, it is time to ask: What will “normal” look like in the wake of the pandemic?

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Author: Mark Moran

Published online: 4.20.2021

After the Pandemic: What Will the ‘New Normal’ Be in Psychiatry? was last modified: May 14th, 2021 by Heidi Rubens Cooper