COVID-19 Impact on the Greater New Orleans Behavioral Health System

With funding from Baptist Community Ministries, LPHI conducted a mixed-methods assessment to understand the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on behavioral health (mental health and substance use) needs and services in the Greater New Orleans (GNO) area. Data were collected through interviews, focus groups, and surveys with 154 behavioral health providers and clients participating from Orleans, Jefferson, St. Bernard, St. Tammany, and Plaquemines parishes. All data were collected from August 3 to August 19, 2020, during Phase 2 of Louisiana’s recovery plan.

The assessment, found here,  shows that behavioral health needs worsened since the start of the pandemic. The most impacted groups, according to the assessment, are communities of color and people experiencing unstable housing. Most behavioral health services transitioned to telehealth, creating new challenges for access and quality of care. Though organizations implemented operational changes to safeguard employees and clients, behavioral health providers and staff experienced increased stress and anxiety.

The assessment includes the impact COVID-19 has had on behavioral health and offers potential strategies and reforms to help address existing challenges, minimize future risk, and increase the resiliency of the behavioral health system and the GNO community.

Additional one-pagers were created for a high-level overview with information that is helpful for policymakers, general behavioral health providers, and youth-specific behavioral health providers.