COVID-19 and Behavioral Health

February 15, 2021
Four in 10 U.S. adults report anxiety or depressive disorder symptoms during COVID-19—roughly four times as many as pre-pandemic.

And those aged 18-24 are twice as likely as all adults to report new or increased substance use (25% vs. 13%) or recent suicidal thoughts (26% vs. 11%). Child and adolescent mental health providers report similar trends in Maryland.

For our youth, isolation, prolonged remote instruction, and other disruptions to daily life weigh heavily.

Like much of what we see in health care, communities of color are disproportionately affected, with Black and Hispanic or Latino adults more likely to report such symptoms.

And it could be years before we fully realize the psychological toll the past year has had on our health care workforce and others close to the trauma.

Marylanders—particularly our youth—will need more mental health support after this immediate crisis has passed.

Harsh Trivedi, CEO of Sheppard Pratt, says, “COVID-19 has only exacerbated the mental health crisis that existed across our state and our nation. It is critical to ensure people have access to the full continuum of behavioral health services.”

Some school districts nationwide are fast-tracking plans for in-person instruction, citing an alarming spike in student suicide attempts. Likewise, some Maryland counites will offer on-campus learning next month.

The General Assembly is considering legislation, supported by MHA, to expand telehealth capabilities for school-based health centers. Another bill would allow students to take mental health days as excused absences.

As we contemplate the long-term impacts of this pandemic, we know MHA members will continue to serve and support our next generation to build resilience in all aspects of their health.  

Bob Atlas
President & CEO 
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