Behavioral Health During the COVID-19 Pandemic: Overview and Issues for Congress.
Duff, Johnathan H. Sarata, Amanda K. Romero, Paul D.
Congressional Research Service.
Federal Publication/Policy Technical Report
Published: July 2, 2021
This federal report explores behavioral health changes during the COVID-19 pandemic, changes made to behavioral health services and related regulations, and issues the U.S. Congress should consider, including extending or making permanent some of the regulatory changes to behavioral health treatment. Following an introduction, the report provides an overview of mental health and substance use during the COVID-19 pandemic. It reports data collected from multiple surveys during the COVID-19 pandemic that suggest Americans experienced increased stress and symptoms of mental health conditions, 13% of U.S. adults started or increased substance use in the first few months of the pandemic to cope with stress related to COVID-19, there was an increase of 11% in fatal overdoses and a 19% increase in nonfatal overdoses from March through May 2020 compared with the same months in 2019, and an estimated 10%-20% of individuals in need of mental health services during the pandemic did not receive them. The data also indicate that mental health symptoms associated with the early phases of the COVID-19 pandemic may have disproportionately affected those who are young adults, Black or Latino/Hispanic, essential workers, unpaid caregivers for adults, unemployed individuals, individuals at low income levels, or individuals with less than a high school diploma. The second part of the report describes changes to behavioral health services during the COVID-19 pandemic, including changes to telehealth, substance use disorder treatment, privacy requirements, mental health parity, behavioral health funding, and other federal efforts. The final part considers select behavioral health-related issues the U.S. Congress may consider during the pandemic and beyond, including extending changes to mental health and substance use disorder treatment, the mental health effects of stay-at-home orders, oversight of funding and federally supported activities, and behavioral health disparities. 154 references.
Behavioral health services; Behavioral health; COVID-19; Disaster response; Federal laws; Federal programs