The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on access to adequate care for serious mental disorders in British Columbia

The Covid-19 pandemic has created new challenges for the treatment of serious mental disorders such as schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. Patient avoidance of health services and the rapid switch from in-person to virtual delivery of services may have created barriers to accessing specialist services. The aim of the current study is to evaluate whether access to adequate psychiatric care for serious mental disorders changed between 2015 and 2022, and particularly after the onset of the pandemic. In addition, we will examine whether any disparities in access by demographic (age, sex, neighbourhood income quintile, geographic location) clinical (diagnosis and presence of substance use disorder) and health system factors have increased or decreased over this time period. Findings from this study will have important implications for the provision of mental health services for serious mental disorders in British Columbia.