In this position statement from the Society of Behavioral Medicine, the authors state that COVID-19 has caused drastic increases in family stress, contributing to harmful social and emotional ramifications. Before COVID-19, millions of Americans lacked access to mental health resources, and now in the midst of a global pandemic, resources are more limited in times of greater need.
In March 2020, the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act provided funding for mental health reforms, yet many barriers remained to receiving sufficient care.
In February 2021, the Society of Behavioral Medicine recommended federal legislators expand Community Behavioral Healthcare Centers, increase funding for Federally Qualified Healthcare Centers and School-Based Health Centers, incentivize providers to accept Medicaid, and institute more statewide licensing flexibilities to expand the reach of mental health care.
In March 2021, the American Rescue Plan was signed into law and provided an additional $4 billion in funding for community mental health services, implementing substance abuse prevention and treatment programs, increasing the behavioral health workforce, promoting behavioral telehealth within primary care, increasing school-based mental health services, implementing suicide prevention programs, and improving services for traumatized families. This significant investment in parents’ and children’s mental health is a tremendous step in the right direction and provides reassurance that relief is underway.
Ongoing surveillance of the outcomes of these new policy reforms will be important for identifying areas that may need continual support as our nation recovers from COVID-19.