Protecting the Mental Health of Underserved Communities around the U.S.

May 26th, 2020 | News


The urgent need for mental health and substance use treatment has only increased as COVID-19 has added isolation and job loss to other risk factors for poor health. In a recent Kaiser Family Foundation poll, nearly half (45%) of adults in the United States reported that their mental health has suffered since the onset of the pandemic. 

Integrating behavioral health (an area that looks at how behavior affects people’s physical and mental health) into primary care will become even more important as safety-net providers such as health centers return to providing standard care. While telehealth has quickly expanded to deliver treatment for substance use disorders and mental health conditions to comply with social distancing protocols, health centers will need ongoing support to ensure tele-behavioral health services are structured for long-term sustainability. 

The HRSA Center of Excellence for Behavioral Health Technical Assistance has launched a new website,, to link eligible HRSA-funded safety-net providers and training programs to free technical assistance. 

HRSA programs provide health care to people who are geographically isolated, or economically or medically vulnerable. HRSA established the Center of Excellence for Behavioral Health Technical Assistance to help its grantees integrate substance use and mental health services in primary care settings and train the workforce. 

The center offers peer learning and individual coaching on topics such as building systems of care, best practices for telehealth, and financial sustainability for care integration at a time of great hardship and transition for providers. While many providers have both fewer resources and greater community needs, integrating behavioral health into the primary care system removes barriers to access and results in better health outcomes for all.

JSI manages the HRSA Center of Excellence for Behavioral Health Technical Assistance with its national team of experts, including the National Council for Behavioral Health, Advocates for Human Potential, the Bizzell Group, the National Health Care for the Homeless Council, and Ten Mile Square.

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