On April 19, APA’s CEO Arthur C. Evans Jr., PhD, and Chief Diversity Office Maysa Akbar, PhD, ABPP, delivered a joint presentation titled “Addressing the Behavioral Health Consequences of the COVID-19 Pandemic on Communities of Color” (PDF, 1.73MB) to the White House COVID-19 Health Equity Task Force. Established by a Presidential Executive Order (PDF, 223KB), the task force is part of a Biden administration-wide effort to identify and eliminate health and social disparities that result in disproportionately higher rates of exposure, illness, hospitalization, and death related to COVID-19.

Evans and Akbar described COVID-19’s enormous impact on the nation’s mental health, noting that recovery from the pandemic must be inclusive of psychological well-being. They went on to explain how pre-existing issues around race and systemic racism complicated and exacerbated the impact of COVID-19 on communities of color. Evans and Akbar also presented a series of policy recommendations (PDF, 348KB) for the administration to consider.

Evans called for a fundamental shift in how we approach behavioral health in America. APA will champion health equity through evidence-based and psychological science-informed solutions that are concentrated in five critical domains:

  • Strengthen the current mental health and substance use disorder treatment system infrastructure.
  • Utilize a whole government approach to address the impact of COVID-19 on the mental and behavioral health of at-risk populations.
  • Enhance research and data collection efforts.
  • Implement prevention and early intervention strategies.
  • Build community resilience.

Watch the task force meeting.

For more information, contact Leo Rennie.