Recently, Prof. Xiang’s team released the first call for timely mental health interventions for those who are in need in the Lancet Psychiatry. The epidemic of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) has a great negative impact on health and has led to common mental health challenges in different populations globally.  In this study, Prof. Xiang and colleagues suggested to establish emergency psychological teams and provide services for certain special sub-populations, such as the elderly. Prof. Xiang’s team now are conducting several large-scale joint studies to examine the epidemiology of psychiatric comorbidities in patients with the COVID-19 and frontline clinicians in order to develop effective control strategies and ultimately contain the virus and protect the health of the public.

Prof. Xiang’s team mainly focuses on community epidemiology, evidence-based medicine, and health services research associated with psychiatric disorders. His team has published more than 400 papers in peer reviewed international journals, including the Lancet, Lancet Psychiatry, World Psychiatry, and Am J Psychiatry. In order to help clinicians establish early diagnoses of psychiatric disorders in clinical practice, Prof. Xiang’s team with CCBS have developed, introduced and validated several screening instruments for mood disorders and cognitive problems, such as the 16-item Quick Inventory of Depressive Symptomatology-Self-Report (QIDS-SR), the 33-item Hypomania Checklist (HCL-33), and the Functioning Assessment Short Test (FAST). These instruments have been widely used in research and clinical practice.

Psychiatric disorders are common in the general population in all societies and are associated with a range of negative outcomes. In past years, Prof. Xiang and colleagues have conducted several large-scale epidemiological surveys on psychiatric disorders, such as major depressive disorders, bipolar disorders, insomnia and examined their risk and protective factors among different sub-populations, including the general population, teenagers, older adults, clinicians and nurses, in both of China and other parts of the world. The findings of these studies are important for health authorities and health professionals to develop health policies and allocate health resources to reduce the risk of these psychiatric disorders and lower their negative impact on health and daily life.

As a psychiatrist, Prof. Xiang has strong interests in clinical aspects of psychiatric disorders. For example, efficacy and safety of many psychotropic medications for schizophrenia and mood disorders were conflicting between studies. In order to help frontline clinicians and improve quality of treatment guidelines, his team has carried out evidence-based research in the past years, such as meta-analysis of random controlled trials (RCTs), to examine the efficacy and tolerability of these medications. Relevant publications have been widely cited by treatment guidelines due to great clinical significance. Furthermore, clinical features of psychiatric disorders are greatly determined by sociocultural backgrounds. Therefore, Prof. Xiang and his team examined epidemiology of psychiatric disorders and related health problems in Chinese populations using evidence-based medicine approaches, including sleep disturbances, suicide-related behaviours, smoking and internet addition.