The AHA today released a report describing the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on behavioral health in the U.S. Among other topics, the report looks at in-person utilization during the pandemic; the increased need for behavioral health services; the effects on specific populations, including the health care workforce, youth, LGBTQ+, and historically underrepresented groups; and innovative ways of providing behavioral health services. In addition, the report highlights legislative and regulatory actions taken during the pandemic, as well as AHA policy recommendations for future actions. 
 
“Behavioral health care has long been underfunded, underappreciated and stigmatized,” the report notes. “The AHA has prioritized advocacy around behavioral health in general, and many of the advocacy strategies in which the organization has engaged prior to the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic would address many of the issues raised in this brief. For example, investments in the behavioral health workforce, the integration of behavioral health into physical health care, the enforcement of federal and state parity laws, and improvements in reimbursement rates for behavioral health providers would help fill the critical gaps in access worsened by the pandemic.”
 

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