Centers are laying off staff while facing a surge in patients.
Mental health and addiction treatment centers and counselors have been overwhelmed with work during the coronavirus pandemic and economic crash. But many are struggling to stay afloat amid confusion and delays over the federal bailout for the health care industry.
Some have waited months for the release of promised aid. Others held out and didn’t apply, believing they’d get a better deal in a future round of funding aimed at centers that see mostly low-income patients. As a result, nearly a third haven’t received any of the $175 billion HHS is doling out to hospitals and other health providers on the front lines of the coronavirus response. And now, they’re appealing to the government for help.
Centers caught in a financial squeeze are shedding staff or unable to buy protective gear while trying to serve a flood of new patients and transition some existing patients to online visits. Meanwhile the burden of a global pandemic and mass unemployment is driving up demand: Calls to a federal mental health crisis hotline have increased ten-fold during the pandemic compared to a year ago — a trend experts could derail the progress the government has made on the opioid crisis.