Resources for Addressing Mental Health in State Government COVID-19 Responses

By Dexter Horne and the State Exchange on Employment & Disability

In 2019, one in five American adults experienced a mental illness, and new research suggests that the pandemic is increasing the number of people experiencing anxiety, depression, post-traumatic stress and insomnia worldwide. These trends impact workplace morale and productivity, particularly for workers age 40-59. Over the past year, state policymakers have addressed mental health in their pandemic responses, as workers in this age group have shown a 38% decrease in sustained attention and a 124% increase in their risk of developing a depressive disorder since February 2020.

Read more for local, state, and federal resources on mental health supports.

States face a major challenge in ensuring that mental health needs are being met—both for people with pre-existing mental health conditions, whose care was disrupted, and for people with new mental and behavioral health needs brought on by the pandemic. The definition of disability under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) includes mental health conditions that substantially limit one or more major life activities.  The law requires that all state and local agencies make their programs and services accessible to and usable by this population.

States are implementing measures to address the issue, providing a range of policy options, including telemental health, racial equity, health care and other frontline workers. and mental health programs for students (elementary, secondary and postsecondary). For example, legislation introduced in Illinois (SB 1841) would create the Advisory Council on Mental Illness and Substance Use Disorder Impacts on Employment Opportunities within Minority Communities. And Florida HB1617 requires the Office of Insurance Regulation to issue an emergency rule waiving certain costs for mental health services provided to frontline health care workers for a specified time period and providing retroactive applicability.

To further help state policymakers address the need for mental health supports, the State Exchange on Employment & Disability (SEED) compiled the following resource guide with links to information from state and local intermediary organizations, the federal government, and resources from US Department of Labor to help employers, including state governments, support employees with mental health conditions.


Center for Advancing Policy on Employment for Youth

Council of State Governments

National Association of Counties

National Black Caucus of State Legislators

National Conference of State Legislatures

National Governors Association

National League of Cities

National Lieutenant Governors Association

U.S. Conference of Mayors

Women In Government


National Institute on Mental Health

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Equal Employment Opportunity Commission


The Employer Assistance and Resource Network on Disability Inclusion (EARN)

The Job Accommodation Network (JAN)

American Psychiatric Association Foundation Resources for Employers

The Center for Workplace Mental Health

The State Exchange on Employment & Disability (SEED), an initiative funded by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Disability Employment Policy (ODEP), assists states in developing effective and inclusive workforce policies that promote disability employment. Recognizing that every state is unique, SEED offers policy options and resources states can tailor to meet their needs and goals. To this end, SEED partners with leading intermediary organizations that serve as trusted sources of information to state and local policymakers.