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LPHI Releases COVID-19 Data on Behaviors, Vaccine Willingness, and Mental Health

Approximately 1,250 residents participated in two studies conducted during Phase 2

Between June and August 2020, the Louisiana Public Health Institute (LPHI) conducted two separate studies on the impact COVID-19 has had on residents of Louisiana. The first is a state-wide survey that investigated risk perceptions, perceived severity, preventative behaviors, mental health impact, vaccine willingness, and more. The second was a study funded by Baptist Community Ministries (BCM) that looked at 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. At the time of both studies, Louisiana was in Phase 2 of reopening.

“The pandemic has clearly shown how existing health inequities were exacerbated by COVID-19,” said Shelina Davis, LPHI’s CEO. “These reports allow us to look at the data through an equity lens and use the information to begin creating equitable solutions now and not as an afterthought – especially around vaccinations and mental health services.”

A total of 1,126 Louisiana residents over the age of 18 completed the online survey, which was open from June 18 – 26, 2020. Overall, results from the survey show that many Louisianans are knowledgeable and worried about COVID-19 and have adopted the recommended preventive behaviors. The full LPHI COVID-19 Survey Report can be found here. A high-level results fact sheet has also be created to provide an overview of the report.

“Our goal with this state-wide survey was to get a broader understanding of how Louisianans view COVID-19, how they have been impacted, and what efforts they have taken to protect themselves and prevent the spread,” said Beth Nauman, managing director at LPHI. “We’re making this information available to policymakers, health systems, and community organizations so they can make informed, equitable, and data-driven response decisions.”

Results also include a breakdown of Louisianan’s willingness to get the COVID-19 vaccine. Vaccine willingness increases with age, is higher in men than women, shows that White Louisianans are more likely than Black Louisianans to state they would get the vaccine, and those with health insurance coverage are more likely to state they would get the vaccine compared to those without insurance.

The BCM assessment was conducted using a mixed-methods approach to understand the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on behavioral health care in Orleans, Jefferson, St. Bernard, St. Tammany, and Plaquemines parishes. Data were collected between August 3 -19, 2020 through interviews, focus groups, and surveys with 154 behavioral health providers and clients.

“COVID-19 will have a longstanding impact on mental health and could change how services are provided even after the pandemic has ended,” said BCM Board Chair Slade M. Simons. “We remain committed to improving the physical, mental, and spiritual health of the individuals we serve and will continue to monitor and address our community’s needs and access to services.”

The BCM assessment, available 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.

“We knew going into this assessment that COVID-19 has had a significant impact on mental health, provider capacity, and service capabilities,” said Adrienne Warren, BCM program director. “We were able to identify specific issues through the assessment and create recommendations to address those needs at both the policy and provider levels.”

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 results fact sheets were created for a high-level overview with information that is helpful for policymakersgeneral behavioral health providers, and youth-specific behavioral health providers.