COVID-19 & Emerging Issues

Disasters and disruptions of all kinds impact mental health and stress community service systems

Pandemic-Related Disruptions Create Needs and Opportunities

The COVID-19 pandemic and related public health restrictions and economic impacts have increased mental health stress for Californians. Such disturbances, including natural disasters, test the capacity of the state’s mental health systems to meet pre-existing and emerging needs. The Commission is working to help county partners and service providers rise to the challenge of moments like these to deliver the best mental health services possible.

“Disasters of all kinds exacerbate the racial, ethnic, and cultural disparities in the mental health system. We have a moral obligation to lean into these events to better serve those who are most impacted, and design our responses to develop more effective, equitable, and resilient service systems.”
Lynn Ashbeck

Commission Chair, MHSOAC


In 2020-21, the Commission helped county and other community partners respond to the impacts of the pandemic and build capacity in ways that reduce racial, ethnic, and cultural disparities exacerbated by the pandemic.

The Commission reviewed and modified its ongoing projects to better support partners adapting services to emerging needs. The Commission partnered with Social Finance, a nonprofit organization, to launch a Rapid Response Network that provided data to inform novel solutions.


The pandemic has simultaneously aggravated conditions for mental health consumers and family members, exacerbated risk factors such as anxiety and isolation for all Californians, and disrupted the provision of services to those needing care.

Advocates and service providers are particularly concerned that pre-existing disparities in access to quality care have worsened for some racial, ethnic, and cultural communities.

To address these concerns, the Legislature provided the Commission with $2.02 million in the 2020-21 Budget to fortify the public response to the changing and growing demands on the mental health system.

Project Milestones

Next Steps

  1. Project Framework

    The Commission will review and discuss options for deploying $2.02 million in COVID-related support.

  2. Project Selection

    The Commission will determine priorities and focus of COVID-support projects.

  3. Project Launch

    The Commission will identify partners, develop contracts, and launch projects.

Reach out to learn more about COVID 19 & Emerging Issues