The coronavirus pandemic of 2019 (COVID-19) has created unprecedented changes to everyday life for millions of Americans due to job loss, school closures, stay-at-home orders and health and mortality consequences. In turn, physicians, academics, and policymakers have turned their attention to the public mental health toll of COVID-19. This commentary reporting from the field integrates perceptions of academic, community, health system, and policy leaders from state, county, and local levels in commenting on community mental health needs in the COVID-19 pandemic. Stakeholders noted the broad public health scope of mental health challenges while expressing concern about exacerbation of existing disparities in access and adverse social determinants, including for communities with high COVID-19 infection rates, such as African Americans and Latinos. They noted rapid changes toward telehealth and remote care, and the importance of understanding impacts of changes, including who may benefit or have limited access, with implications for future services delivery. Needs for expanded workforce and training in mental health were noted, as well as potential public health value of expanding digital resources tailored to local populations for enhancing resilience to stressors. The COVID-19 pandemic has led to changes in delivery of health care services across populations and systems. Concerns over the mental health impact of COVID-19 has enhanced interest in remote mental care delivery and preventive services, while being mindful of potential for enhanced disparities and needs to address social determinants of health. Ongoing quality improvement across systems can integrate lessons learned to enhance a public mental well-being.
- Mental health
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