COVID-19 and Children’s Mental Health: Addressing the Impact [California].
Little Hoover Commission. Milton Marks Commission on California State Government Organization and Economy.
Public Policy Report State Resource Technical Report
Published: August 2021
This report examines the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the mental and emotional well-being of children and adolescents in California, and how State government can respond to the pandemic’s impact and better support children’s mental well-being into the future. Following an introduction, Section 1 describes how the pandemic created a perfect storm of stress, anxiety, and trauma, exacerbating a preexisting crisis in children’s mental health. It explains that many young people experienced social isolation and disconnection, some endured economic dislocation and the illness or loss of loved ones, and that there have been notable increases in anxiety, depression, and mental health-related emergency room visits. Statistics that indicate a deterioration in child and adolescent mental and emotional health are shared and the disproportionate impact on the mental and emotional well-being of children from communities of color and low-income communities is considered, as well as the long-term consequences. Section 2 reviews barriers to addressing children’s mental health needs in the California child mental health system, including decentralization, fragmentation, the fail first model, the lack of capacity, and funding. The role of schools in addressing mental health care needs is described. Section 3 identifies steps California can take to address the pandemic’s impact on children’s mental health and describes the components of the Children and Youth Behavioral Health Initiative. The final section discusses recommendations for establishing State leadership and outcome goals, building capacity for statewide approaches, and building school-linked partnerships. 150 references.
California; COVID-19; State disaster response; Child health; Mental health; Mental health services; Behavioral health; Behavioral health services; Adolescents; State programs; Well being; Social isolation; Program improvement