States Prioritize Mental Health Amid COVID19 Pandemic

By Sydney Geiger, CSG Policy Analyst

As the current state with the largest outbreak of COVID-19, New York is prioritizing the mental health of its citizens. Over 6,000 volunteers have donated their time to staff a free online mental health hotline. Discussing the hotline, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said, “No one is really talking about this. We are all concerned about the immediate critical need. The life and death of the immediate situation which is right. But don’t underestimate the emotional trauma that people are feeling and the emotional health issues.”

But New York is not alone — numerous states have publicly recognized the importance of mental health during this pandemic.

Missouri Gov. Mike Parson said during a press conference, “Mental health is something everyone should focus on not just right now but going forward as Missourians continue to cope with the after-effects of COVID-19. We’re going to get through this together, but we have to take care of ourselves mentally and physically.”

Missouri’s Department of Mental Health has made efforts to allow community providers the ability to provide services through telehealth instead of the typical face-to-face meetings. Also, Missouri is sharing the federal Disaster Distress Helpline at (800) 985-5990 or text: “TalkWithUs” to 66746. This resource provides free, confidential and multilingual supports to those in need.

The Hawaii Child and Adolescent Mental Health Division provides a similar crisis text line service where children and adolescents can text ALOHA to 741741 to be put in contact with a service provider.

The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services COVID-19 response web page has a section titled “Managing your Overall Health.” This section hosts tips to relieve anxiety and stress and numerous resources such as an emotional support help line and tips for taking care of your behavioral health during social distancing, quarantine and isolation from an infectious disease outbreakOpen PDF from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.

The Colorado Office of Behavioral Health is remaining open and continuing to provide services for Coloradans in need. Colorado has a free 24/7 crisis support line as well that is reachable through text or call. Additionally, for resources related to COVID-19, Colorado is sharing resources from Mental Health America to its citizens.

The Texas Health and Human Services Commission announced the launch of a mental health support line in response to COVID-19. The free, 24-hour line will be available to all Texans who are experiencing stress, anxiety, grief, depression or any other emotional challenges. The Harris Center for Mental Health and IDD will be operating the line. These trained providers offer confidential trauma-informed support and psychological first aid.

Mental health services are being provided around the clock and around the nation as states respond to the COVID-19 pandemic. States encourage citizens to maintain good physical and mental health throughout the outbreak.