The COVID-19 pandemic has stunned the global community with marked social and psychological ramifications. There are key challenges for psychiatry that require urgent attention to ensure mental health well-being for all – COVID-19-positive patients, healthcare professionals, first responders, people with psychiatric disorders and the general population. This editorial outlines some of these challenges and research questions, and serves as a preliminary framework of what needs to be addressed. Mental healthcare should be an integral component of healthcare policy and practice towards COVID-19. Collaborative efforts from psychiatric organisations and their members are required to maximise appropriate clinical and educational interventions while minimising stigma.