The NCSL Blog


By Karmen Hanson

If there’s one thing most everyone can agree on, it’s that life during a pandemic is stressful. Different schedules, economic uncertainty, work and school changes, and a little too much family or alone time can all add up, making us feel anxious, worried or depressed.

Women sitting on couch with tissue boxThese stressors are not only bothersome, they can be hazardous to your health.

Research has shown that positive mental health and physical health are closely connected. Public health efforts and behavioral health services support overall health and well-being. Strong and interwoven public and behavioral health systems can help states and people maintain their overall health through severe life stresses, whether they are local, national or worldwide. Even small opportunities to collaborate may improve health service systems.

New NCSL resources, supported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, highlight opportunities to connect and strengthen the systems, even during a pandemic.

NCSL’s new brief, "Bridging the Gap: Connecting Behavioral and Public Health Systems," demonstrates how state policymakers and health departments can leverage resources to create integrated public and behavioral health systems for better health outcomes. Check out this summary to pique your interest.

Hear how state legislators and behavioral health professionals are responding to the pandemic during this COVID-19 Mental Health Emergency Townhall from NCSL and the National Council for Behavioral Health.

This NCSL webinar features state behavioral health officials sharing stories of rising to the occasion to maintain and standup behavioral health treatment and supports during these trying times.

Your ears will also enjoy this lively episode of "Our American States," titled "COVID-19: States Face its Effects on Behavioral Health." The episode is chock-full of actions taken by policymakers and health departments in response to the wide variety of behavioral and public health needs.

Last but not least, this convenient two-page NCSL LegisBrief explains how COVID affects behavioral health and state and federal policies to address it.

Click here for even more NCSL behavioral health resources.

Karmen Hanson is the program director for behavioral health and pharmaceuticals in NCSL’s Health Program.

Email Karmen

This project is supported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services as part of a financial assistance award totaling $250,000 with 100% funded by CDC/HHS. The contents are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily represent the official views of, nor an endorsement, by CDC/HHS, or the U.S. Government.

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About the NCSL Blog

This blog offers updates on the National Conference of State Legislatures' research and training, the latest on federalism and the state legislative institution, and posts about state legislators and legislative staff. The blog is edited by NCSL staff and written primarily by NCSL's experts on public policy and the state legislative institution.