First Person Perspective

Taking Care of Yourself: The Importance of Mental Healthcare After COVID-19


After what feels like an eternity, we have begun to see the light at the end of a long COVID-19 tunnel as the vaccine becomes more widely available. And while we have heard about “long-haul COVID-19”— the long-lasting physical side effects of the disease — it is time to shine a light on the long-lasting impacts on mental health, too. We were already in the midst of a mental health crisis prior to COVID-19, with the highest suicide rates in decades and opioid overdoses on the rise. These are further exacerbated by over a year of isolation, job loss, financial challenges, and more.

At Sheppard Pratt, we care for some of Maryland’s most vulnerable population. As a trusted mental health partner with more than 160 programs in over 380 sites, we are a beacon of hope for those who need our help now and in years to come.

Many of our patients may have been stable prior to COVID-19 but are struggling today. Those with years of sobriety may have relapsed. There are also reported increases in domestic violence and child abuse cases as a result of COVID-19. Unemployment, increased anxiety, and a lack of community resources have impacted so many people. For many, the restrictions and social isolation of the last year have disrupted their access to treatment and care, which may have a profound impact on their mental health.

It is clear that we are facing a worsening mental health crisis. Access to critical and timely care and services is imperative. By continuing to build out a network of services, we can help individuals and communities stay healthy for the long term.

Throughout the past year, our organization has responded to the increased need for access by implementing telepsychiatry across our continuum of care—inpatient, partial hospital programs, urgent psychiatric care, and outpatient programs. Our ability to roll out services at scale and impact health disparities in our communities is a game changer for those struggling to access care. 

We’ve played a crucial role in helping our communities make it through the pandemic—and that role remains imperative as we work to help our communities during the post-COVID recovery. Sheppard Pratt is here, ready to join you and support your journey to better health. 

The Behavioral Health Impacts of COVID-19

  • According to the Maryland Opioid Operational Command Center, there was a 9.1% increase in overdose deaths in the first half of 2020 compared to the same period in 2019.
  • 10% of participants in a 2020 Centers for Disease Control & Prevention study reported seriously considering suicide in the prior 30 days—up from only 4% in a 2018 study. 
  • 41% of participants reported at least 1 mental health concern.