About Coronavirus

International and National Resources

AMHCA recognizes the importance of communicating effectively on efforts to treat and prevent the novel coronavirus. For the best public health resources, we encourage you to visit the sites below.



Researchers Warn of Long-Term Mental Health Impact of Novel Coronavirus Infections 
  • According to a new analysis short-term mental health symptoms stemming from a coronavirus infection may continue for a long time after hospitalization.
  • Researchers found that around 30% of patients hospitalized for SARS and MERS, and almost 70% of the most serious Covid-19 patients experienced symptoms of delirium — general mental disturbance and sometimes hallucinations
  • Although there isn't yet data on the long-term mental impacts of Covid-19, studies that looked at data from SARS and MERS patients showed that many of the most severely ill patients experienced depression, anxiety, fatigue, and PTSD for months or even years following their hospitalization.
  • The authors of the study warn that the studies assessing long-term mental health in SARS and MERS patients didn't have high-quality data — including the lack of a control group in some cases.



76 Members of Congress Send Letter to Leadership Calling on Congress to Include $38 Billion For Behavioral Health Organizations (BHOs) in Next Stimulus

Seventy-six lawmakers from both chambers of Congress are lobbying leadership to include funding for mental health in the next coronavirus stimulus package.

In a letter led by Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA.), the lawmakers called for the next coronavirus stimulus to include at least $38.5 billion for BHOs, which they say are at risk of being shuttered as part of the pandemic’s economic fallout.

The lawmakers added that a “significant portion” of the funds should be allocated to BHOs that are “enrolled in Medicaid and provide care to underserved groups, or those who otherwise lack coverage for needed behavioral and mental health care.”

 The 76 members said BHOs have not been “sufficiently included” in past economic relief packages, which combined for a total of roughly $3 trillion, and noted that mental health services will be even more important as families grapple with the hardships related to the coronavirus.



FEMA Administrator Approves 30 States for Crisis Counseling Assistance and Training Program to Help Residents Struggling with COVID-Related Anxiety

On May 2, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) announced approval of 30 states and the District of Columbia for its Crisis Counseling Assistance and Training program. The program helps fund state-provided crisis counseling services to residents struggling with stress and anxiety as a result of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

The May 2 approvals were for: Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Connecticut, Colorado, Delaware, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Maryland, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Wisconsin and D.C.

FEMA's Crisis Counseling program helps people and communities recover from the effects of natural or man-made disasters through short-term interventions that provide emotional support, crisis counseling, and connection to familial and community support systems. Due to the COVID-19 nationwide emergency and the need to protect the safety and health of all Americans, crisis counseling services will be delivered by phone, internet and social media.

Help is also available to all residents through the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services’ Disaster Distress Helpline by calling 1-800-985-5990 or texting TalkWithUs to 66746.



Federal Communications Commission COVID-19 Telehealth Program

The COVID-19 Telehealth Program provides $200 million in funding, appropriated by Congress as part of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, to help health care providers provide connected care services to patients at their homes or mobile locations in response to the novel Coronavirus 2019 disease (COVID-19) pandemic. 

The Program will provide immediate support to eligible health care providers responding to the COVID-19 pandemic by fully funding their telecommunications services, information services, and devices necessary to provide critical connected care services until the program’s funds have been expended or the COVID-19 pandemic has ended.

Note that the COVID-19 Telehealth Program is limited to  sort by nonprofit and public eligible health care providers that fall within the categories of health care providers in section 254(h)(7)(B) of the 1996 Act.  For more information, see Question 10 of the sort by Frequently Asked Questions.



New Survey Shows Majority of People Report Struggling with Mental Health Due to Covid-19

small, new survey from finance research and analysis website ValuePenguin finds that more than half of respondents are struggling with their mental health.

Here's more from the nearly 1,200-person survey: 

  • Overall trends: 55% of those surveyed said their mental health is suffering due to the Covid-19 outbreak. This was especially the case with millennial respondents, nearly two-thirds of whom reported struggling with their mental health.
  • Loneliness: 47% of respondents said they're feeling more lonely than usual. Although half said they spoke to loved ones daily, around 10% of respondents said that video or phone chats exacerbated their feelings of isolation.
  • Resources: Nearly 60% said they don't know how to access mental health resources from home. More than 20% want to access a virtual therapist, but are unsure if insurance will cover the service.



Survey of Children in Wuhan, China Show 1 in 5 Children Reporting Depressive Symptoms

new survey of children who were quarantined in the Chinese province of Hubei — whose capital is Wuhan — finds that more than a fifth of them reported symptoms consistent with depression.

Here's more: 

  • The study: Researchers analyzed responses from more than 1,700 children in grades 2-6 in the cities of Wuhan and Huangshi. The children had been subject to home confinement due to the pandemic for at least two months.
  • The findings: Almost 23% of students reported depressive symptoms, while nearly 20% reported symptoms of anxiety. Those in Wuhan, the epicenter of the outbreak, were more likely to report these symptoms than children in Huangshi.
  • The implications: The lack of outdoor activities and social interactions may have influenced the rates of mental distress reported by the children, and future research will have to consider the long-term mental health effects of restrictive measures, the authors suggest.


New “Well Being Trust” Report Shows Covid-19 Could Result in 75k ‘Deaths of Despair’

  • According to a new report the negative effects of the Covid-19 pandemic could result in as many as 75,000 "deaths of despair," or those from suicide or alcohol and other substance abuse.
  • Unemployment is a risk factor for suicide and substance abuse, and so researchers at the Well Being Trust and the Robert Graham Center looked at projected rates of unemployment for 2020-2029 and combined it with the number of deaths of despair from 2018 as a baseline.
  • Depending on how steep the unemployment figures could be, the projection for deaths of despair ranged from around 27,000 if the economy recovered quickly to more than 154,000 if the economic downturn lasted for a long time, with 75,000 deaths being the most likely scenario.
  • To avoid this, policymakers should focus on providing meaningful work to those who are unemployed as a result of Covid-19 — such as by employing them as contact tracers — and should make accessing mental health care easier, the report concludes.


Lancet Article: Suicide Risk Might Increase Because Of Stigma Toward Individuals With COVID-19 and Their Families, While Depression, Anxiety, And Post-Traumatic Stress Might Increase Among The General Population

  • The mental health effects of the coronavirus disease pandemic might be profound and there are suggestions that suicide rates will rise, although this is not inevitable.
  • Suicide is likely to become a more pressing concern as the pandemic spreads and has longer-term effects on the general population, the economy, and vulnerable groups. Preventing suicide therefore needs urgent consideration.
  • The response must capitalize on, but extend beyond, general mental health policies and practices.


Economic Stimulus Debate Update

Congress left Washington without negotiating a fourth major COVID-19 Economic Stimulus Package.  It is unclear when they will return to the table to try to hammer out a deal.

In lieu of Congressional action, President Trump issued four Executive Orders last week:

  • Unemployment insurance that would provide $400 per week -- $300 by the federal government and $100 by the states.
  • Payroll tax cut for Americans earning less than $100,000 a year through 2020.
  • Moratorium on housing evictions through 2020.
  • Moratorium on student loan payments through 2020.

It is unclear how these actions will be implemented, and if any legal action will be taken by Congress to block the orders from being implemented since Congress has federal spending authority.  But legal action could take weeks for the courts to weigh in.


National Governor’s Association (NGA) Releases Strategies To Address Social Isolation And Loneliness During COVID-19 

  • The NGA released a best practices guide for governor’s across the country on how to combat social isolation, along with examples of policies states have implemented so far.
  • You can view the memo here.

 

New Analysis Shows Suicide-related Calls Involving Over-the-Counter Painkillers are Rising

  • An analysis of suicide-related calls to poison centers shows common painkillers found in household medicine cabinets — ibuprofen, acetaminophen, and aspirin — are being used more frequently in suicide attempts and are more often leading to serious medical problems than they were 20 years ago.
  • Children and teenagers accounted for half the cases from 2000 to 2018; the 57% increase in overall cases was driven mostly by girls and women, who accounted for nearly three-quarters of all cases.
  • Calls resulting in a serious medical outcome or hospital admission rose by almost two-thirds over the study period.

 

National Survey of LGBTQ Youth Mental Health Shows Increase in Suicide Ideation

  • A national survey of LGBTQ youth mental health from the Trevor Project found that 40 percent of LGBTQ respondents “seriously considered attempting suicide” in the past 12 months.

 

New Research Shows Limiting Handgun Sales to those 21 and over May Help Decrease Suicides Among Adolescents

  • According to new research states that restrict the sales of handguns to those aged 21 and older may have lower suicide rates among adolescents.
  • Scientists looked at suicide data between 2001-2017, and found that each state that limited handgun sales to those 18 and older had an additional 344 suicides among 18-20-year-olds compared to states with a 21-and-over policy.
  • In contrast, states that limited handguns to those 21 or older had around two fewer suicides per 100,000 adolescents in the 18-20 age group.
  • Two states — Missouri and South Carolina — lowered the age limits for handgun purchases from 21 to 18 during the study period, and saw an increase in adolescent suicide rates.
  • At the same time, Wyoming and West Virginia raised their age limits to 21 in 2010 and didn't see a significant change in their suicide rates.

 

New Research Shows Follow-up Soon After Leaving Hospital Could Help Reduce Suicide Risk

  • New research  shows mental health specialists following-up in a timely fashion with those who were discharged from psychiatric wards has shown to be a way to reduce suicide risk.
  • Scientists looked at data from nearly 140,000 children and adolescents who are Medicaid recipients, around 57% of whom had a follow-up within a week of being discharged from a psychiatric ward. These patients had a nearly 55% lower risk of dying by suicide between 8-180 days following discharge. Twenty-two youths — most of whom were white and male — died by suicide within six months of being discharged. Black adolescents, those who were medically ill, or were older were less likely to have a mental health expert check-in with them soon after being discharged.

 

Mental Health America Announces More than 250k People Screened Positive for Depression Since Pandemic Began

  • Tens of thousands of people experienced serious mental health symptoms in July as the COVID-19 pandemic continued to take a huge toll on the mental health of the nation, according to new data released by Mental Health America (MHA).
  • MHA, which has been using its online mental health screening program – www.mhascreening.org – to track the real-time impact of the pandemic on mental health conditions, reported that more than a quarter million people took a mental health screening in July. This was the largest monthly number in the six years of the program, which has now reached more than 5.5 million people with tools and resources to learn more about their mental health conditions and improve or maintain their mental health.
  • “In July, more than 72,000 of our screeners indicated moderate to severe symptoms of depression, more than 39,000 had moderate to severe systems of anxiety, and more than 19,000 had symptoms of psychosis – the highest numbers we have ever seen,” commented MHA President and CEO, Paul Gionfriddo. Collectively, since the end of February more than 263,000 people over and above what we would have expected have screened moderate to severe for depression or anxiety,” he added. “This reflects how pervasive mental health conditions are becoming in the general population as a result of the pandemic. In addition to hundreds of thousands experiencing depression or anxiety, more than 42,000 people have also now experienced symptoms related to emerging psychosis,” Gionfriddo added. This suggests that stress from the pandemic is also playing a role in the development of these symptoms. Most worrisome are the 90,000 plus people who report regularly thinking of suicide or self-harm – more than 30,000 in the month of July alone.”
  • Screening respondents cite loneliness and isolation, relationship problems, current events, and, increasingly, financial problems as reasons for their mental health conditions at the present time. While young people continue to be disproportionately affected by both anxiety and depression, different populations cite different reasons for their concerns. Severe mental health conditions also appear to be on the rise.

 



Steps to Take to Protect Yourself and Your Family
https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/protect/index.html


Steps to Prevent Illness
https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/about/prevention.html?CDC_AA_refVal=https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/about/prevention-treatment.html


What to Do When Sick
https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/about/steps-when-sick.html


Older People and People with Chronic Diseases at Higher Risk
https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/specific-groups/high-risk-complications.html


Getting Your Workplace Ready for Covid-19
https://www.who.int/docs/default-source/coronaviruse/getting-workplace-ready-for-covid-19.pdf


Mental Health and Coping during Covid-19
https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/about/coping.html


Common Questions
https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/faq.html


Parent/Caregiver Guide to Helping Families Cope with the Coronavirus (Covid-19)
https://www.nctsn.org/sites/default/files/resources/fact-sheet/outbreak_factsheet_1.pdf


What Coronavirus Fears are Doing to People with Anxiety Disorders
https://www.washingtonpost.com/health/2020/03/11/what-coronavirus-fears-are-doing-people-with-anxiety-disorders/


Centers for Disease Control (CDC)

COVID-19 Manage Stress and Anxiety

Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA)
Tips for Social Distancing, Quarantine, and Isolation During an Infectious Disease Outbreak
COVID-19 Public Health Emergency Response and 42 CFR Part 2 Guidance

Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS)
Medicare Telemedicine Health Care Provider Fact Sheet

United Nations
COVID-19 and Mental Health Impacts

World Health Organization
Mental Health and Psychological Considerations During COVID-19

Examples of State and Local Resources

NEW YORK: New York Expanding Mental Health Services for Coronavirus Frontline Workers:
  • New York is expanding its efforts to provide mental health services to frontline workers amid the coronavirus pandemic.
  • The services, which will be free of cost, are being offered in conjunction with Kate Spade New York Foundation and includes a 24/7 hotline available to workers.
  • In addition, Co-pays, deductibles and any other out-of-pocket costs for mental health services for frontline pandemic workers will be waived by state insurance regulators.

COLORADO: Mental Health and Financial Security are Two of the Top Concerns among Coloradans during the COVID-19 Pandemic

  • Healthier Colorado and The Colorado Health Foundation on Thursday released new results from a statewide survey about the coronavirus outbreak. The survey looks at the concerns, needs, experiences and attitudes of Coloradans as they navigate through this unprecedented time. Nearly half (43%) said they believed the worst was yet to come.
  • Here are some of the key findings from the survey: A majority of Coloradans say the stress and worry from the coronavirus outbreak has impacted their mental health.
  • More Coloradans are worried about paying for necessities of daily living like housing, food, utilities and prescription drugs. Coloradans overwhelmingly feel the government should do more to make health care more affordable, support individuals who cannot afford food and housing, and provide paid sick and family leave.
  • Most people feel there are significant changes ahead to the way we live, socialize and work, even after the coronavirus outbreak is under control. More than half of those surveyed, about 53%, reported that their mental health has worsened due to stress and anxiety over the pandemic.

CHARLESTON, WV: City of Charleston to hire first mental health coordinator: The City of Charleston announced it will hire its first mental health coordinator. The position will be funded with Community Development Block Grant funds, according to a news release from the city. The coordinator will work as a part of Mayor Amy Goodwin's CARE Office and will be responsible for coordinating the work of a mental health response team comprised of the city of Charleston's staff, mental health experts, homeless shelters and social service providers, the release said. The CARE Office will reach out to up to 30 individuals or families each month and address mental health and social service needs.

 

GENESEE COUNTY, MI: Genesee County won’t ask voters for mental health tax: County commissioners say additional funding for mental health services is needed but aren’t ready to ask voters for a new millage that would cost property owners more than $90 million over the next 10 years. Commissioners took no action on a request from Genesee Health System to ask voters for a 0.94-mill property tax in November, a proposal that would pay for a new around-the-clock mental health crisis center and increased funding for county police departments. The proposed property tax would have funded a stand-alone crisis center and the creation of a crisis intervention team to staff it. The GHS millage would have set aside 70 percent of raised revenue -- estimated at $9.1 million in the first year -- for mental health crisis, stabilization and prevention, reducing the burden on the county jail and improving care, Russell said. Twenty percent of the tax would have been allocated to the county Sheriff’s Office and 10 percent allocated to villages, cities and townships that maintain their own police departments.

 

GRAND RAPIDS, MI: Grand Rapids expands mental health partnerships: The Grand Rapids Police Department is exploring options to improve mental health response. Grand Rapids City Manager Mark Washington announced his intent to expand mental health partnerships as part of the city’s ongoing efforts to improve public safety outcomes. Washington, Police Chief Eric Payne and Fire Chief John Lehman intend to leverage a combination of nonsworn behavioral and mental health professionals within the organization and partnerships with behavioral and mental health professionals from other governments, authorities and nonprofit organizations. Washington said he hopes to pilot the expanded partnerships by focusing on responses to those experiencing homelessness, building on the early success of the city’s Homeless Outreach Team. The goal is to integrate police, fire and mental health professionals to connect individuals more effectively with the services and support that can lead to transitional and/or permanent supportive housing.

 

CHARLES COUNTY, MO: St. Charles County firefighters create mental health initiative for trauma survivors: Firefighters came together to create a nonprofit mental health initiative for bystanders of traumatic events after seeing the effects of post-traumatic stress disorder firsthand. Through the new Central County Fire and Rescue Community Crisis Assistance Program (CCAP), people can receive free counseling with licensed professionals in the aftermath of physical and mental trauma, according to a release from the department. Training is underway to teach volunteers to identify situations that could cause post-traumatic stress and how to refer someone for assistance. Every CCFR employee can activate the program in the aftermath of an emergency incident. CCFR said that firefighters came up with the idea after bystanders rescued two people from a burning home in June. Realizing that the bystanders were at risk of post-traumatic stress from the experience, the firefighters spent days brainstorming how to help them recognize symptoms and begin the healing process. From that, CCAP was born. Since it launched on June 27, it already has helped six local residents who stepped into traumatic events to help their neighbors. The program is funded by donations and helps families in need, conducts community education and outreach efforts and supports local community organizations.

 

CONTRA COSTA COUNTY, CA: Awarded grant to integrate EMS into long-term opioid use disorder care: A California county has received a two-year, $450,000 grant to evaluate a pilot program that partners EMS providers with outreach workers to improve care for those with opioid use disorder (OUD). The CARESTAR Foundation awarded the grant for Contra Costa County's CA Bridge Program at the Public Health Institute, which formed an alliance between the California Department of Public Health, Contra Costa County EMS, American Medical Response, the Contra Costa County Department of Public Health and UCLA to tackle the opioid crisis. This is the first county-wide pilot in California where EMS responders start buprenorphine treatment for OUD directly from the ambulance, and then outreach workers connect with patients within the community to provide longer-term resources," said CA Bridge EMS Director Dr. Gene Hern. "Improvement in this area of care is critical right now, given that the number of deadly opioid overdoses in many California counties is rising drastically."

 

MISSOULA COUNTY, MT: Mobile Crisis Team Underway: The Missoula County Criminal Justice Coordinating Council received a $125,000 grant from the state Department of Health and Human Services to fund a mobile crisis team to respond to calls for people in mental health crisis, which currently fall on the shoulders of law enforcement. The grant will help fund a 10-month pilot crisis team, which will consist of two mental health professionals with basic medical training to assess and assist a person in crisis, and a peer-support specialist and/or case manager to ensure the person receives follow-up treatment and mental health services. Missoula County and the City of Missoula approved matching funding for the project, which, coupled with other grant funds received earlier this year, totals $380,000. Data from the pilot project will be used to inform future funding decisions. When the mobile crisis team is up and running, people will be able to call 911 and have a mental health team dispatched to the scene. Depending on the situation, the dispatcher may send both police and the mental health team, or just the police if they need to go out and secure the scene first. A case manager will then follow up with the person after the phone call. The county is aiming to have the mobile crisis team active by September, and will contract with a mental health provider to deliver mobile crisis services through an RFP process expected to start next week.

 

SANTA BARBARA COUNTY, CA: State Grant Will Expand Mental Health Services For At-Risk Kids In Santa Barbara County Schools: A state grant is going to fund the expansion of mental health services in Santa Barbara County’s schools. The $4 million dollar grant will be used by the Santa Barbara County Education Office and the county’s 20 school districts to help kids in crisis. There will be a special focus on aid for students who identify as LGBTQ, students who have been suspended or expelled, and foster youth. The four-year program will including having mental health experts available to help children and their families.  The funding from a state commission will also pay for what’s known as Mental Health First Aid training for teachers and school staff.

 

ALABAMA: Alabama officials launch ‘Stop Judging, Start Healing’ campaign to address mental health: A new resource is available to support the Alabama Department of Mental Health and Public Health’s “Stop Judging, Start Healing” campaign. An informational PowerPoint brings awareness and exposure to ending the stigmas of opioid use disorder, HIV, viral Hepatitis, substance use disorder and mental illness. The program is also designed to give supporting information to enhance the healing process for the people experiencing these stigmas, as well as the people who support them. The “Stop Judging, Start Healing” campaign was created to educate and bring awareness to create a state of mind where people with mental health disorders are valued and treated with dignity and where stigma and barriers to treatment and recovery are eliminated.

 

ILLINOIS: State launches new mental health initiatives: The Illinois Department of Human Services announced three new mental health programs designed to provide additional support for Illinois residents. These new resources will be provided by community organizations through the Living Room Program, Transitional Living Centers and the Transitional Community Care and Support Programs. To achieve successful transition of individuals leaving the IDHS state-operated psychiatric hospitals, IDHS is contracting with community mental health centers and non-traditional service providers to develop capacity and to deliver clinical services and non-traditional supports. The initiatives include:

Living Room Program: This program is for those in need of services and supports designed to divert crises and break the cycle of psychiatric hospitalization. The program provides a safe, inviting, home-like atmosphere where individuals can calmly process a crisis event, as well as learn and apply wellness strategies to prevent future crises. It is staffed by recovery support specialists. Individuals seeking services are screened for safety by qualified mental health professionals upon entry and exit. Individuals experiencing psychiatric crises may self-refer or may be referred by police, fire, emergency departments, or other organizations with which an individual experiencing such a crisis may come into contact. Transitional Living Centers: These centers are a housing resource for individuals who have mental illnesses and need a place to stay while they work with a community mental health center to find permanent housing. Priority is given to individuals who are ready for discharge from an state-operated psychiatric hospital, but need housing. This is not residential treatment, but truly housing, with services and supports being provided through traditional avenues. Transitional Community Care and Support Programs: Eligible individuals are those who are in a state-operated psychiatric hospital and preparing to be discharged. The hallmark of the program is the development of engagement specialists who work in recovery support specialist roles within community mental health centers and who will be coming to state-operated psychiatric hospitals for face-to-face engagement with individuals while they are hospitalized. This will facilitate linkage and establish a trusting relationship with a provider of community-based services for state-operated psychiatric hospital patients during their inpatient stay. The program will include funding for non-traditional supports, such as cellphones, food, clothing, transportation, and other resources necessary for individuals to succeed as they transition to communities. In addition, agencies will provide clinical consultation to the state-operated psychiatric hospital treatment team during treatment and discharge planning to ensure treatment needs are anticipated and addressed prior to discharge

 

MICHIGAN: Michigan picked for CCBHC pilot project funding community mental health services: Michigan has been picked to partake in a federal pilot program that funds mental health and addiction services in community health clinics — an approach that's helped to keep those needing treatment out of jails, hospitals and off the streets.  The pilot is tied to legislation enacted in 2014 from Sens. Debbie Stabenow, D-Lansing, and Roy Blunt, R-Missouri, to offer reimbursement for community-based mental health treatment. The program established new federal criteria for participating clinics to meet quality standards and offer a broad range of services, including 24-hour crisis psychiatric care, counseling and integrated help to treat substance abuse, and physical and mental health issues. Michigan was not selected for the initial round of eight states for the pilot project in 2016 but has now been selected, along with Kentucky, for an expansion authorized under the federal coronavirus relief or CARES Act.  Twelve centers included in Michigan’s proposal will be part of the demonstration, Stabenow said, and receive funding for two years through Medicaid, the government health program for mostly low-income individuals.

 

MINNESOTA: Minnesota launches pioneering Medicaid program to combat homelessness: Minnesota officials this week launched an innovative program that aims to help thousands of people who are poor or have disabilities to find their own homes and avoid living on the streets. The program breaks ground in that it uses funds from Medicaid, the state-federal health insurance program for the poor, to pay for a wide range of housing-related services for people at risk of becoming homeless. It will help people search and apply for housing, negotiate leases and ultimately prevent evictions by identifying tenant problems before they become crises, among other services. State officials said they expect the benefits package — called Housing Stabilization Services — will help about 7,000 people on Medicaid find and retain housing within the program’s first three years. The initiative took several years to prepare and reflects a shift in the way policymakers and state agencies are approaching the problem of homelessness. Health and housing programs historically served many of the same people, but they have been administered separately by a patchwork of nonprofits and government agencies with different funding sources. Yet a growing body of research shows a link between health and housing: that a person’s overall health improves once they find a stable place to live. Other states are pursuing a similar model, but Minnesota is the first to receive federal approval to offer housing support services in its basic publicly funded Medicaid program. The new benefit comes as state and local officials struggle to find practical solutions to the affordable housing crisis, which has become more visible during the coronavirus pandemic. On Monday, police cleared a sprawling homeless encampment at Minneapolis’ Powderhorn Park, which had swelled to several hundred people, citing increasing crime and health concerns. In Hennepin County alone, officials estimate there are about 80 homeless camps, most with just a few tents. The camps have grown in size and number, outreach workers say, because many homeless people fear catching the coronavirus in a shelter. In response, Hennepin and Ramsey County officials launched an unprecedented effort to move hundreds of homeless people at risk for the coronavirus to hotels, but they are still struggling to bring social services to a hard-to-reach population of people sleeping outside who have mental illness and substance abuse issues. The process for creating the new benefits package was set in motion five years ago, when the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services issued a critical bulletin outlining how Medicaid could cover housing-related services. Those who qualify for the new services would get help finding a place to live, making sure a home is safe and ready for move-in, as well as assistance negotiating with potential landlords. But unlike many short-term housing programs, the support does not end once a person moves into a home. The program also pays for a variety of tenant services, such as early identification of behavioral problems and tenant training designed to prevent evictions. The new Medicaid benefit does not cover the cost of rent, but it would help cover tenant services that are provided by a patchwork of organizations across the state.

 

NEW HAMPSHIRE: Safe Station program goes mobile to connect homeless with addiction, mental health services: With the original services of the once-innovative Safe Station program now available through the Catholic Medical Center, the Manchester Fire Department has begun a new phase of Safe Station. It’s gone mobile. Three times a week, a team that includes firefighters, mental health workers and shelter managers has been visiting homeless camps in the city. Fire Chief Dan Goonan said the effort is to get some 175 homeless camp residents more connected with the help they need to fight problems such as substance abuse or mental illness. And they try to convince them to move to shelters, an effort that he acknowledged is not going so well during the summer. The demand for the service may be increasing. Experts predict a 40% rise in homelessness nationwide, much of that due to economic problems associated with the COVID-19 pandemic. In 2016, the Manchester Fire Department created Safe Station, making every fire station an access point for drug users to be linked to treatment, services and medical care. It was replicated in locations nationwide, and Goonan hosted President Donald Trump and other top officials to showcase the program. But Safe Station notoriety has been fading. Gov. Chris Sununu’s Doorways program leaned away from fire stations as entry points for services. And earlier this year, Catholic Medical Center assumed the formal Doorway function. Goonan said he created the mobile response team with federal CARES Act money and $265,000 annually provided by Sununu to address homeless issues. After a few visits, the people in camps realized the crisis team was there to help, he said. Conversations started. Nurses helped people with injuries. At least eight were hospitalized for psychiatric problems. At least 16 applied for government benefits. On July 1, a headcount found 173 people in 31 camps, including the four camps where officials had been supplying toilets, sinks, food deliveries, police coverage and trash pickup. The city discontinued those services late last month. The goal is to encourage camp residents to move to the shelter, but on July 1, the shelter was hosting only 18 people who came from the camps. Goonan said four out of every five people in camps are suffering from mental health problems.


New York State Office Mental Health

City of New York

King County, Washington

City and County of San Francisco

News Clips

The Atlantic: The Coming Mental-Health Crisis

The New York Times: Coronavirus Lockdown May Spur Surge in Mental Illness, U.N. Warns

Time Magazine: Could COVID-19 Finally Destigmatize Mental Illness?

Los Angeles Times: We need to prepare for the mental health effects of coronavirus on kids

CNBC: How Covid-19 is impacting the mental health of millennial moms

Forbes: Supporting Youth Mental Health: Let’s Seize The Day

Route Fifty: Fear, Isolation, Depression: The Mental Health Fallout of a Worldwide Pandemic

RealClear Health: Mental Health and the Post Covid-19 World

 Los Angeles Times: Coronavirus Pandemic Threatens to Deepen Mental Health Crisis

The Huffington Post: The Long-Term Effects Social Distancing May Have On Mental Health

Business Insider: The 'loneliest generation' gets lonelier: How millennials are dealing with the anxieties of isolation and the uncertainties of life after quarantine

 Foreign Policy: The Next Pandemic Crisis Is Mental Health

PBS: The ominous consequences of COVID-19 for American mental health

CNN: All employees face mental health risks now. Here's how managers can help


USA Today: 'Death is our greeter': Doctors, nurses struggle with mental health as coronavirus cases grow


STAT News: Crisis counselors, the ‘paramedics of mental health,’ wage a wrenching battle on the coronavirus front lines


The Washington Post: The coronavirus pandemic is pushing America into a mental-health crisis


The Washington Post: The covid-19 pandemic has shocked the mental-health system out of complacency


Buzzfeed: The Mental Health Crisis for Frontline Workers Has Already Begun


EdWeek: Schools Struggle to Meet Students' Mounting Mental-Health Needs


USA Today: Cavaliers star Kevin Love shares mental health tips to help deal with coronavirus' impact


Roll Call: Mental Health Care Adapts to Telehealth


The Hill: Scholastic Offers Free Education Resources Amidst COVID-19

The Hill: The mental health cost of containing the coronavirus outbreak

Forbes: How to Leas with Mental Health in Mind During Coronavirus

CNN: How to keep coronavirus fears from affecting your mental health

Fortune: Mental Health in the Time of Coronavirus

Child Mind: Supporting Kids During the COVID-19 Crisis

Psych Congress: Responding to Pandemic Coronavirus: Mitigating Population Panic and Assuring Mental Health and Substance Use Services

Ed Surge: Teacher, Interrupted: Leaning into Social-Emotional Learning Amid the COVID-19 Crisis

Slate: How to Care for Your Mental Health During the Coronavirus Lockdown

Quartz: Quarantine has serious impact on mental health. Here’s how to support yourself and others

WALL STREET JOURNAL: A Growing Push to Treat Racisms Impact on Mental Health

 

FORBES: How Mental Health Metrics Can Protect Employees in an Uncertain World

 

ASPEN INSTITUTE: How We Can Address Mental Health Inequities in the Time of Covid-19

 

THE WASHINGTON POST: Black Psychiatrists Are Few, They’ve Never Been More Needed

 

ED TECH MAGAZINE: How Schools Are Taking SEL and Mental Health Online

 

USA TODAY: Young People Struggle with Finding Mental Health Support Amid COVID-19 Pandemic

 

DALLAS MAGAZINE: For Mental Health 911 Calls, Dallas Found Success In Social Workers

Executive Branch News

Centers for Disease Control Releases Reopening Protocol Guidance

 

SAMHSA Releases Guidance Document on Combatting Racial Disparities

  • The guidance is titled “Double Jeopardy: COVID-19 and Behavioral Health Disparities for Black and Latino Communities in the U.S." 
  • The report highlights the impacts Covid-19 has had on communities of color and discusses policy proposals to help limit disparity impacts moving forward.
  • You can view the guidance here.

 

SAMHSA Assistant Secretary McCance-Katz Addresses White House Cabinet Meeting

  • SAMHSA Asst. Secretary Elinore McCance-Katz made an appearance at Tuesday’s White House Cabinet meeting, where she argued that in her capacity as “a psychiatrist who also happens to hold a PhD in infectious disease epidemiology,” she’s worried about the shutdown driving economic trauma that boosts addiction and substance use
  • Asst. Sec. McCance-Katz also shared comments that she had recently made to governors: “Virus containment cannot be our only goal, no matter the cost to Americans,” McCance-Katz said, adding that "if we ignore the reality of the enormous mental health strain we’ve put on our citizens … I’m saddened but certain that the next major public health crisis of our time will be that of mental and substance use disorders, and it is not far behind."

Trump Administration Renews Covid-19 Public Health Emergency

  • Trump Administration extended the Covid-19 public health emergency which ensures that critical resources to fight the pandemic will continue.
  • Public health emergencies last for 90 days, meaning the latest renewal will expire in late October — close to Election Day — without another extension.

 

FDA Requiring Label Changes to Include Information about Naloxone

  • The FDA is requiring changes to opioid drug labels so that they include information on the opioid overdose antidote naloxone.
  • The agency is looking for ways to prevent overdose deaths amid the opioid crisis. More recently, there were 70,980 reported deaths from overdoses in 2019, which was an all-time annual high, and a White House analysis this month showed an 11.4 percent year-over-year increase in fatalities for the first four months of 2020.
  • Providers should discuss the availability of naloxone with all patients when prescribing an opioid or a medicine to treat opioid use disorder, the agency added.
  • Public health and government officials will be closely monitoring whether the labeling change and other recent actions on naloxone can reduce opioid overdose deaths.



President Trump Activates the Defense Production Act (DPA)


The President invoked and activated the DPA this week, which gives the President, among other activities, the power to prioritize government contracts for goods and services over competing customers, and offer incentives within the domestic market to enhance the production and supply of critical materials and technologies when necessary for national defense.

Below is a breakdown of the DPA:

 Title I
§  Authority to demand priority for all contracts and orders (other than contracts of employment): Allows the federal government to receive priority when it makes requests of private industries, which will force a company to fulfill a government order before it can fill any other commercial orders.

§  Authority to allocate the distribution of materials, services, and facilities to promote the national defense: Allows for the control of the general distribution of any material in the civilian market

§  Authority to allocate the distribution of domestic energy materials, equipment and services: Requires priority performance of contracts or orders, or to control the distribution of any supplies of materials, services, and facilities in the marketplace (Does not include gasoline).

§  Authority to control hoarding of “scare materials”: Designates certain materials as scarce materials or those that the supply of which would be threatened by reasonable demands of consumption, or for the purpose of price gauging.

§  Preference for small business suppliers: Can provide a strong preference for small business concerns, which are subcontractors or suppliers, located in areas of high unemployment or areas that have demonstrated a continuing pattern of economic decline, as identified by the Secretary of Labor.


Title III
§  Authority to provide incentives for essential industrial resources, technology items, and materials for national defense: Allows for loans to private businesses to create, maintain, expand, protect, or restore capacity, develop technological processes, or produce essential materials.


Title VII
§  Assurance of no liability for private industry for compliance and defense to action under antitrust laws: Allows to obtain products from private industries with assurances of protections for those industries. Immunizes companies against liability for legal damages or penalties resulting from complying with rules or regulations authorized by the DPA  Protects companies taking part in voluntary agreements for preparedness programs and expansion of production capability and supply against antitrust litigation.

§  Authority to review certain mergers, acquisitions and takeovers: Provides authority to review and suspend certain corporate mergers/transactions and to investigate the potential impact on national security of such action.

President Trump Signs COVID-19 Relief Package #2


President Trump signed the H.R 6201 Families First Coronavirus Response Act into law

The legislation includes the following:
The appropriations in the legislation include increases in funding for benefit programs like WIC ($500 million) and Commodity Assistance ($400 million). The legislation also provides $250 million to the Department of Health and Human Services for Aging and Disability Services Programs, including for home-delivered meal programs.

The legislation allows for temporary expansions in the food stamp program to account for children who cannot receive school meals due to closures and provides open-ended funding to the Secretary of Agriculture to administer this expansion. It further designates $100 million for grants to Puerto Rico, American Samoa and CNMI for nutrition assistance. 

 The legislation suspends the administration’s effort to end waivers of the longstanding food stamp work requirement for able-bodied childless adults (who would otherwise be expected to work or participate in training part time to continue collecting food stamps for longer than three months in a three-year period).

 The legislation includes a new “emergency paid leave program” for individuals diagnosed with coronavirus, quarantined in order to prevent its spread, or who are caring for someone with coronavirus, quarantined, or whose school has closed. This new entitlement program would be administered by the Social Security Administration and operate for the next year. Benefits would equal two-thirds of prior average wages, are capped at $4,000 per month, and are not taxable.  Key eligibility terms are based on self-attestation.  

 The legislation also includes a new entitlement program for “Paid Sick Days for Public Health Emergencies and Personal and Family Care,” administered by the Department of Labor.

 The legislation provides all states a share of $1 billion in unemployment insurance (UI) administrative funding, payable based on each state’s taking actions to expand access to UI benefits. Half of the $1 billion would be available within 30 days to states that expand access to UI in general such as by requiring employers to provide notice of the availability of UI to separated employees, among other terms. The other half of the $1 billion would be available only in states that experience at least a 10 percent spike in UI claims and that also express their “commitment to maintain and strengthen access” to UI in general and have eased UI eligibility requirements for those affected by coronavirus.

 The legislation promotes short-time compensation programs, revives 100 percent federal funding for the historically 50/50 federal-state extended benefits (EB) program, and provides for interest-free federal loans to states.

 The legislation requires all health plans (including Medicare, Medicaid, and Tricare) to provide for full coverage of testing for coronavirus.

 The legislation increases the federal share of Medicaid costs (known as the FMAP rate) by eight percentage points, but only if states maintain or increase current eligibility and other program standards. 

 Funding in the bill is declared emergency spending. Published reports suggest the Congressional Budget Office is not expected to produce a score before the legislation is considered in the House.

Senate

Senate Passed By Unanimous Consent the National Suicide Hotline Designation Act

  • The bill would designate “988” as the National Suicide Hotline number and provide other resources to suicide prevention.
  • The House counterpart legislation was included within the HEROES Act, but the Senate legislation will need to be taken up separately in the House to ensure its passage.

 

Senate HELP Committee Hosts Virtual Hearing on Coronavirus Response

  • On May 12, lawmakers (virtually) questioned four top federal officials overseeing the Trump administration’s coronavirus response.
  • Appearing with FDA chief Stephen Hahn, CDC Director Robert Redfield, and HHS assistant health secretary Brett Giroir, NIAID’s Anthony Fauci.
  • Dr. Fauci warned that the U.S. Covid-19 deaths — which have surpassed 80,000 — are likely undercounted. “Most of us feel that the number of deaths are likely higher than that number.”



Senate Republicans Release COVID-19 Emergency Aid Package #3


Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell released the GOP plan for the third COVID-19 emergency aid package.

The Senate is hoping to come to an agreement on a package sometime this weekend, but will likely look different from GOP package.

Section by section of the GOP bill can be found here


Bipartisan Committee Leaders Request Information on COVID-19’s Impact on Addiction & Overdose Crisis 

  • Bipartisan Energy and Commerce Committee leaders sent a letter to Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Alex Azar addressing concerns that the COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated the ongoing substance use disorder (SUD) and overdose crisis in the United States, which the country has been battling for decades. The bipartisan leaders requested a briefing on the latest trends in substance use and overdoses, how those trends are affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, and what more the federal government needs to do to address this growing crisis.
  • The letter to Azar was signed by Energy and Commerce Chairman Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-NJ), Ranking Member Greg Walden (R-OR), Health Subcommittee Chairwoman Anna G. Eshoo (D-CA), Ranking Member Michael C. Burgess, M.D. (R-TX), Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee Chair Diana DeGette (D-CO), and Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee Ranking Member Brett Guthrie (R-KY).
  • In 2018, the number of fatal drug overdoses decreased for the first time in over two decades, but last year, overdose deaths increased to an all-time high. Now, recently reported increases in overdose deaths during the COVID-19 pandemic threaten to exacerbate these trends. According to the Washington Post, data indicate that, compared to the year before, suspected overdoses nationwide increased 18 percent in March, 29 percent in April, and 42 percent in May. The COVID-19 pandemic has led to more Americans suffering from depression and economic hardship, as people continue to isolate and often are unable to seek the necessary treatment. Dr. Nora Volkow, Director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse at the National Institutes of Health, recently stated, “that the support systems that were there to actually help them achieve recovery are no longer present. At the same time, access to some of the treatment programs has become much harder to get by and that actually includes emergency departments.”
  • To read the full letter, click HERE   

House

House Passes Stimulus 4.0 Legislation, HEROES Act, which Includes Mental Health Resources

  • The House passed the HEROES Act on May 15th, which is the $3 trillion dollar stimulus package in response to the Covid-19 outbreak.
  • Here are links to more information on the legislation: bill text, and section by section summary.
  • In addition to including $1 trillion dollars in aid to states and localities for lost revenues the bill included funding and various provisions around mental health.
  • Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration – $3 billion to increase mental health support during this challenging time, to support substance abuse treatment, and to offer increased outreach, including:

o   $1.5 billion for the Substance Abuse Prevention and Treatment Block Grant;

o   $1 billion for the Community Mental Health Services Block Grant;

o   $100 million for services to homeless individuals;

o   $100 million for Project AWARE to identify students and connect them with mental health services;

o   $10 million for the National Child Traumatic Stress Network

o   $265 million for emergency response grants to address immediate behavioral health needs as a result of COVID-19;

o   $25 million for the Suicide Lifeline and Disaster Distress Helpline; and

o   Not less $150 million for tribes, tribal organizations, urban Indian health organizations, or health service providers to tribes across a variety of programs.

 

  • $90 billion for a State Fiscal Stabilization Fund for grants to States to support statewide and local funding for elementary and secondary schools and public postsecondary institutions.

o   This flexible funding can support: providing school-based supports for impacted students, families, and staff, including counseling, mental health services, family engagement efforts, and the coordination of physical health services.

 

  • Includes National Suicide Lifeline Improvement Act

o   Sec. 601. Includes findings related to suicide and mental health crisis counseling and the importance of designating a three-digit code for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.

o   Sec. 602. Universal Telephone Number for National Suicide Prevention and Mental Health Crisis Hotline System: Designates 9-8-8 as the universal dialing code for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.

o   Sec. 603. State Authority Over Fees: Allows states to impose a fee or charge on voice service subscribers’ bills for the support or implementation of 9-8-8 services for the support of the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.

o   Sec. 604. Location Identification Report. Requires the FCC to evaluate and submit a report to Congress on the feasibility and cost of automatically providing the dispatchable location of calls to 9-8-8.

o   Sec. 605. Report on Certain Training Programs. Requires the Assistant Secretary for Mental Health and Substance Use to submit a report to Congress that details a strategy for offering support or providing technical assistance for training programs for National Suicide Prevention Lifeline counselors to increase competency in serving LGBTQ youth.

 

  • Section 30618. Research on the mental health impact of COVID–19: Directs the NIH’s National Institute of Mental Health to support research on the mental health consequences of COVID-19, including the impact on health care providers.

 

  • Section 30619. Emergency mental health and substance use training and technical assistance center: Establishes a technical assistance center at the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) that will support public or nonprofit entities and public health professionals seeking to establish or expand access to mental health and substance use services associated with the COVID-19 public health emergency.

 

  • Section 30633. Grants to address substance use during COVID-19: Authorizes SAMHSA to award grants to support local, tribal, and state substance use efforts that need further assistance as a result of COVID-19.

 

  • Section 80013. Vet Center mental health care and services for National Guard and Reserve members responding to the COVID-19 public health emergency: Permits any National Guard  or Reserve member to receive mental health care at Vet Centers if deployed for more than 14 days in support of the COVID-19 public health emergency.



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"Clinical mental health counselors are always working for the betterment of mental health and well-being – and the total health of individuals and employ leadership, advocacy, and collaborative skills to promote systemic changes for improved public health.  Never have you been needed more. You are all a treasured American resource." Read Joel Miller's Message