APA wrote to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnel, R-Ky., and Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., underscoring the importance of a Phase IV COVID-19 relief package (PDF, 330KB). Data show that Americans are already experiencing a surge in COVID-related mental and behavioral health problems—including increases in anxiety, depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder. Based on previous research on similar outbreaks, including the 2003 SARS pandemic, APA is acutely concerned that a surge in COVID-related psychological problems will only be magnified in the coming months and years. Additionally, there is mounting evidence that COVID-19 is disproportionately impacting some communities, including racial and ethnic minorities, Native American tribes, low-income households, and older adults. Failing to invest in mental and behavioral health services risks further exacerbating the gap in health outcomes for these communities.

APA urged the Senate to move forward quickly on a new package responding to COVID-19 ahead of the August recess for Congress. Further, as psychologists come to the aid of those suffering from COVID-related distress, including front-line workers, APA encouraged Congress to include robust support for mental and behavioral health in this relief package. Given the unprecedented toll that the pandemic and resulting economic collapse has had on Americans’ psychological and emotional well-being, it is critical that the co-occurring mental health crisis and disparate impact of the pandemic on vulnerable populations be addressed with urgency. APA’s appropriations recommendations include expanding support for mental and behavioral health services, strengthening resources for psychology graduate students and the mental health workforce, prioritizing policies to address the disproportionate impact of COVID-19 on communities experiencing health inequities, and providing funding for COVID-related behavioral and social science research.

For more information, contact Alix Ginsberg, MPH.