Policy UpdatesTexas Senate Committee on Health & Human Services – Mental Health Impact of COVID-19

Texas Senate Committee on Health & Human Services – Mental Health Impact of COVID-19

SUMMARY – On December 8, 2020, Andy Keller, PhD, President and CEO of The Meadows Institute, was invited testimony at the Texas Senate Committee on Health & Human Services. During his presentation, Dr. Keller discussed “The Mental Health Impacts of COVID-19.”

Dr. Keller’s testimony began with a big picture overview of the mental health impacts of COVID-19:

  • The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) now tracks mental health needs weekly. As of early November, symptoms of both anxiety disorder and depression were up 4-fold.
  • The number of people seriously considering suicide doubled.
  • Mid-March through October 2020, the proportion of mental health-related ED visits increased 24% among children aged 5–11 and 31% among adolescents aged 12–17.
  • A September study found that 52% of behavioral health organizations had seen an increase in demand.

Dr. Keller also provided a summary of papers that The Meadows Institute has developed which address the mental health impacts of a COVID-19 recession.

He applauded the investments of the Texas Legislature in previous years to invest in Texas communities and the state mental health system and provided recommendations for continued progress including:

  • Continuing to scale-up the Texas Child Mental Health Care Consortium
  • Secure access gains through telehealth by providing permanent adoption of waivers instituted by HHSC during COVID-19
  • Implement collaborative care in Medicaid