NAMI Urges Congress to Help People with Mental Illness in the COVID–19 Crisis

Mar 18, 2020

The spread of coronavirus impacts every person in this country. We also know that people affected by mental health conditions face unique challenges during this time.
As Congress prepares a series of COVID-19-related relief bills, NAMI urges congressional leaders to ensure that people affected by mental illness can maintain their treatment, get health and mental health coverage, access needed supports, and lift up the nonprofits they depend on, like NAMI.
NAMI’s priorities in COVID-19 relief legislation include:

1. Remove barriers to mental health treatment

People need ways to manage existing mental health conditions and maintain mental wellness while reducing their exposure to COVID-19. This is especially important for people with mental illness who have co-occurring medical conditions or who take medications that suppress their immune system. To address this, Congress should:  

2. Promote coverage for health and mental health care

People with mental health conditions are often uninsured or face barriers to getting needed treatment and supports, particularly during this time of national crisis. To address this, Congress should:

3. Ensure safe housing for people with severe mental illness

Many people with serious conditions are living in tents, under bridges, coming in and out of shelters, or living in group homes. People with mental illness facing housing insecurity are uniquely vulnerable to being exposed to the virus, and an outbreak in shelters or encampments would exacerbate this national emergency. Additionally, many people with mental health conditions are at risk of losing housing with the loss of steady income. To help, Congress should:

4. Support nonprofits’ capacity to serve

Nonprofits, specifically 501(c)3 charitable organizations, are on the frontlines every day, serving people with mental health conditions. During the coronavirus crisis, nonprofits like NAMI organizations are struggling to meet greater demand, fill in gaps in public services and provide information and supports to people from the safety of their homes. To support nonprofits, Congress should: 

5. Provide paid leave to preserve health

Many people with mental health conditions are in jobs that do not have paid leave. This gap could force people to choose between giving up their paycheck to avoid spreading the virus or continue to go to work and possibly contribute to community spread. To address this, Congress should:

Together, we can ensure that no one in our community is left behind. Visit to take action.

NAMI HelpLine is available M-F, 10 a.m. – 10 p.m. ET. Call 800-950-6264,
text “helpline” to 62640, or chat online. In a crisis, call or text 988 (24/7).