The public health emergency caused by the COVID-19 pandemic has had an enormous impact on virtually all facets of our daily lives, especially health care. While the ultimate effects of COVID-19 on both individuals and populations are unclear, we know we will have to navigate the impact of the pandemic on the behavioral health system. The rates of depression, suicide, and substance use are expected to surge as communities continue to struggle with COVID-19 cases—along with the fear, isolation, children falling behind in education and unemployment that comes with the pandemic. It is essential that policymakers ensure that communities have continued access to mental health and substance use disorder services not only during, but also in the aftermath of this pandemic.
As the public health crisis caused by the COVID-19 virus continues to tax health care resources and infrastructure, it is clear that we must use every resource at our disposal to effectively fight the spread of illness and ensure that our patients can access essential health services, including mental health care.
Among the global disruption caused by the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic, we are seeing the alarming data about the impact that the virus is having on minority and underrepresented groups. While we are still coming to grips with the full implications of this pandemic, it is evident that these health disparities are a fact that is exacerbated by the COVID-19 crisis.
As the U.S. addresses COVID-19 (coronavirus), all medical associations are working to ensure the continued operations of their respective organizations, governing bodies, assemblies, boards, meetings, and conferences.
- By Saul Levin, M.D., M.P.A., FRCP-E, FRCPsych
The criminal justice system bears an alarming share of the load of mental health care in the United States, often placing people with mental illness and substance use disorders in systems that have neither the resources nor the expertise to provide them the care they need. An estimated two million people with serious mental illness are booked in our jails each year. The Bureau of Justice Statistics reports that only a third of inmates with mental illness receive treatment, and for those that do, too often they receive less than the optimal care.