NUHW advocates for mental health care for COVID-19 caregivers

May 7th, 2020

Dear NUHW Member:

One of NUHW’s central tenets is that everyone should be able to access mental health care that’s on par with the physical health care they receive. Unfortunately, California’s Mental Health Parity Act has big loopholes, and insurers routinely violate it without repercussions from government regulators.

The COVID-19 pandemic threatens to produce a surge in mental health problems including depression and post-traumatic stress disorder.

Nearly half of Americans report the coronavirus crisis is harming their mental health, according to a Kaiser Family Foundation poll. A federal emergency hotline for people in emotional distress registered a more than 1,000 percent increase in April compared with the same time last year.

As healthcare workers, NUHW members are especially vulnerable to mental health problems due to the strains of caring for our communities during the COVID-19 pandemic. Approximately 11 percent of all Californians testing positive for the coronavirus are healthcare workers.

As the nation’s leading union representing private-sector mental health clinicians, we are pushing to ensure that all of our members have access to free and immediate mental health care and that our mental health clinicians  — whose work responsibilities can be done from home — can do their jobs remotely to lower their risk of infection.

Our COVID-19 Healthcare Workers Bill of Rights states:

“Healthcare workers are confronting intense pressure, stress, uncertainty, and trauma in the workplace as well as a high risk for infection. To help workers facing these conditions, healthcare facilities must provide access to high-quality mental healthcare services to employees at no cost.”

We are engaging healthcare corporations and elected officials about meeting the increasing demand for mental health care and making sure that healthcare workers are prioritized. We are also supporting mental health bills in the state legislature that would require insurance companies to cover all medically necessary mental health care and substance use disorder treatments and remove common barriers patients face when attempting to access medication-assisted treatment for substance use disorders.

It’s time for a mental health care surge to meet the growing demand. And that starts with making sure that healthcare workers can get free and immediate care.

Please contact us with any Covid-19-related questions at COVID19@nuhw.org.

In Unity,
Sal Rosselli, President, National Union of Healthcare Workers
Sophia Mendoza, Secretary-TreasurerNational Union of Healthcare Workers