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
- Child Trends and the Child Trauma Training Center’s Resources for Supporting Children’s Emotional Well-Being During the COVID-19 Pandemic
- Centers for Disease Prevention and Control, Talking with children about Coronavirus Disease 2019: Messages for parents, school staff, and others working with children
- Child Mind Institute Resources Page, Supporting Families During COVID-19
Making Medicaid and CHIP Responsive to the Crisis
- National Health Law Program’s Overview of Using Medicaid to Respond to COVID-19
- Centers for Medicaid and Medicare COVID-19 Checklists and Tools to Accelerate Relief for State Medicaid and CHIP Programs
- Information on state Medicaid waiver requests and responses
- CA Children’s Trust Issue Brief, Stabilize and Sustain Youth Behavioral Health During COVID-19
- American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry Telepsychiatry Toolkit
- Zero to Thrive / University of Michigan / Alliance for the Advancement of Infant Mental Health / Starfish Family Services / Michigan Association for Infant Mental Health, Telehealth Service in Infant Mental Health Home Visiting
- Child Trends, During the COVID-19 pandemic, telehealth can help connect home visiting services to families
- MIT Technology Review, The coronavirus pandemic is a game changer for mental health care
- California Executive Order to Expand Telehealth Services
School-Based Health Centers
- Child Trends, School-based health centers can deliver care to vulnerable populations during the COVID-19 pandemic
General Resources on Children’s Mental Health, Trauma, and Early Intervention
- Harvard University Center on the Developing Child, Early Childhood Mental Health
- National Child Traumatic Stress Network, About Child Trauma