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The Next Surge: The Behavioral Health Crisis Following COVID-19

May 29, 2020

May is Mental Health Month, and this year, health officials are tasked with navigating the impact of COVID-19 on the behavioral health system. The rates of depression, suicide, and substance use are expected to surge as communities continue to struggle with COVID19 cases—along with the fear, isolation and unemployment that comes with the pandemic. It’s essential that policymakers ensure that communities have continued access to mental health and substance use disorder services not only during, but also in the aftermath of this pandemic.

During this episode, public health leaders discuss gearing up for a surge of mental health needs, and strategies states could take to mitigate the impacts. Experts also discuss why it is especially critical to examine the behavioral health infrastructure for rural communities and the impact of historical trauma exacerbated by the pandemic.


  • Joe Parks, MD, Medical Director and Vice President of Practice improvement, National Council for Behavioral Health
  • Saul Levin, MD, MPA, Chief Executive Officer and Medical Director, American Psychiatric Association and Former Director, District of Columbia Health Department
  • Anne Zink, MD, FACEP, Chief Medical Officer, Alaska Department of Health and Social Services