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October 16, 2020

State Mental Health Agencies (SMHAs) are the critical safety net providing evidence-based mental health services to individuals in need in every state. Each year over 8 million individuals (2.5% of the U.S. population) receive mental health services and supports from SMHA systems. The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted and exacerbated existing challenges in the state systems that expend over $40 billion annually to provide mental health services. COVID-19 affects all aspects of state behavioral health systems, including inpatient care in state hospitals, crisis services, community-based treatment services, and services to school-aged children.

To understand and assess the magnitude of the COVID-19 impact on state mental health systems, and how these systems have adapted to challenges presented by COVID-19, NRI, in collaboration with the National Association of State Mental Health Program Directors (NASMHPD), surveyed the SMHAs during the summer of 2020.

This report highlights the experiences of SMHAs during the Spring/Summer of 2020 in addressing the impact of COVID-19 on public mental health services. The report details the impacts of COVID on state psychiatric hospitals and community mental health services, as well as the use of Telemedicine to help provide services remotely during the pandemic.