National Center for Youth Law

At the Center

Mental Health COVID-19 Statement and Resources

COVID-19 has dramatically changed the lives of most children and families – and will undoubtedly have a significant impact on the mental health and wellness of children. This requires us to think about immediate and long-term solutions to mitigate harm and proactively improve our systems of support for children.

Before this crisis, children in the United States already faced growing mental health challenges. Approximately one in six children aged 6 to 17 experienced a mental health disorder, such as depression or anxiety. Many, including children of color, in poverty, and in child welfare, were not getting their mental health needs met by the systems in place. As families navigate difficult new realities, we can expect an uptick in children’s mental health needs. Children may experience stress and trauma associated with fears of COVID-19 itself, the illness or loss of a family member, changes in their daily routines, or restrictions on access to services they may have received before. Yet, the same structural barriers that have historically limited access to care for vulnerable youth may be even greater now, as issues stemming from COVID-19 exacerbate existing socioeconomic divides.

There are steps we can take – both little and big – to increase access to care during this crisis. To their great credit, many state and local agencies, advocates, providers and school leaders are already developing innovative strategies to address immediate needs, such as expanding telehealth services and increasing flexible funding for providers. Even as we race to implement these solutions, we must keep equity considerations front and center. Doing so will strengthen our response, not stop our innovation.

We also need to begin thinking about the long-term implications of COVID-19, and to strengthen our systems to better meet children’s needs going forward. When schools eventually re-open, teachers will be supporting classrooms in which most students may be experiencing or have experienced some degree of trauma. Proactive early intervention services can address disequilibrium, build resilience, and help mitigate the effects of trauma. Let’s build now so we can maximize access to crucial supports when school resumes. Doing so could have a profound impact on the mental health of an entire generation.

Below are some resources related to supporting the mental health and wellness of children during the COVID-19 crisis. We will continue to update this list as further guidance, resources, and proposals emerge from the field. 

 

Supporting Children’s Mental Health During COVID-19 

 

Making Medicaid and CHIP Responsive to the Crisis 

 

Telehealth Resources 

  • Federal guidance on HIPAA and FERPA during COVID-19

 

School-Based Health Centers

 

General Resources on Children’s Mental Health, Trauma, and Early Intervention