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Jeremy Attermann

Business and Strategy Manager, National Council for Behavioral Health

Offering Hope and Help Amid the Hurt

September 3, 2020 | Community Impact | Comments
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There’s a saying that pretty much sums up what a lot of us feel about the influx of virtual meetings and digital conversations since the arrival of COVID-19:

The year 2020 has been the longest decade ever.

Early 2020 was met with uncertainty as the first case of COVID-19 was reported in the U.S. We watched as the coronavirus spread across our nation, our economy came to a halt and our health care and social service organizations faced challenge after challenge. While no community has been spared from this pandemic, we know that some communities have been disproportionally impacted in the many ways that COVID-19 has disrupted the health and wellness of our society.

Our behavioral health system has been torn in two directions during this pandemic. On one hand, behavioral health needs have never been higher. Mental Health America reported that more than a quarter million people have screened positive for depression and/or anxiety since the start of the pandemic, a staggering number they have not seen in their six years of screening. On the other hand, public health restrictions on in-person services has limited the provision of behavioral health services, particularly in the first two months of the pandemic, leaving providers financially strapped.

But behavioral health is, innately, a story of resilience.

More than 3,000 National Council members balanced the implementation of significant operational changes – including transformational shifts to virtual care – with safety practices for patients, families and staff. They identified immediate needs for critical resources, such as personal protective equipment (PPE), sanitation supplies, telehealth equipment and supports for clients and staff. Even with our world changing, our members remained motivated by our North Star, ensuring needed access to mental health and addiction treatments and supports.

As our members stepped up, so did the National Council and our partners, supporters and advocates. In April, the National Council established a COVID-19 Relief Fund, a mechanism by which money and in-kind donations could be rapidly distributed to member organizations to support their ongoing services during the pandemic. We announced a call to our national network to support this new fund and the response was both overwhelming and heartwarming.

To date, we have raised just under half million dollars and secured dozens of in-kind donations, such as hardware and software to support virtual care, pro bono consulting services and technology solutions to support patients and providers. Funding has been distributed to more than 150 organizations across 34 states, with more organizations receiving support every week. We are thankful to everyone who has stepped up to support providers across the country and we know our members are, too. They’ve told us:

“Thank you so much for the grant to help us with PPE supplies! As with many other agencies, PPE in these quantities and forms were not budgeted items. Your help will enable us to try to stay even with these ongoing needs.”

“We greatly appreciate the generous support during this time, as well as the many resources the National Council has been providing to agencies like ours.”

“This funding award will help us continue serving those in need of mental health and substance use services in our community.”

We are proud to be doing our part to support the country’s behavioral health system during these difficult times, and we recognize the hard work doesn’t stop here. COVID-19 remains a troubling public health concern, particularly as we transition to a new school year. So much is needed at this time to support the physical, behavioral and social wellness of individuals and communities, and our COVID-19 Relief Fund is just one of the many ways we are contributing to this effort.

Through collaboration and consideration, kindness and support, we will get through the “decade” that is the year 2020. Even if it means enduring more virtual meetings.

A special thanks to all of the individuals and companies that have provided funding or in-kind donations to the COVID-19 Relief Fund. A full list of corporate and philanthropic donors is available on our website. If you are able, we welcome additional contributions, or the chance to discuss other opportunities for collaboration. Please visit our COVID-19 Relief Fund webpage to learn more or make a donation today – 100% of all donations are given to our members.

If you are a National Council member that could use funding or other support during this time, please visit our COVID-19 Relief Fund application webpage and our COVID-19 resource directory.