MHRN III Supplemental Project: Effect of COVID-19 Pandemic on Mental Health Service Use

Grant Details

Title: Impact and Implications of Rapid Transition to Virtual Mental Health Care during COVID-19

Funder: NIMH

Grant Number: 3U19MH121738-02S1

Grant Period: 9/30/2020 – 6/30/2021

Narrative: The Mental Health Research Network conducts practice-based mental health research in large healthcare systems serving over 25 million patients in 16 states, with a focus on having large-scale data infrastructure available for rapid analyses. This study takes advantage of that infrastructure to study how changing from in-person to phone- or video visits during the COVID-19 crisis disrupts care of people with mental health conditions, including those in important and potentially disadvantaged subgroups. This work will help us understand who needs more support during crises as well as determine who benefits most from telehealth visits as the field of behavioral health care continues to transition to using more of these services.

  • Lead Site:
    • Overall PI: HPI (Project lead/site PI Rebecca Rossom)
  • Participating Sites/Subcontractors:
    • HFHS (project co-lead/site PI Brian Ahmedani)
    • KPWA (PI Greg Simon, co-I Rob Penfold)
  • Funder Contacts
    • Science Officer: Susan Azrin
    • Program Official: Michael Freed
    • Grants Management Official: Julie Bergerud
  • Awarded Budget (Total Cost)
    •  $344,930


Funding Announcement

Personnel Contact List

Current status

Data extraction is completed at all participating sites.  The first set of analyses examining changes in suicide death outcomes before and after onset of the COVID-19 pandemic were completed and the manuscript was published in Medical Care.  Preliminary analyses of counts and rates examining visit patterns, diagnoses, and treatment patterns before and after onset of the pandemic have been completed.  Additional primary analyses are ongoing for each of these metrics.  Final data analyses will be completed in late 2022.

Summary of findings

In participating health systems, overall suicide mortality declined slightly during the first months of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Among people receiving specialty mental health care, likelihood of interrupting treatment was slightly lower after the shift to telehealth delivery than before the pandemic.


Rossom RC, Penfold RB, Owen-Smith AA, Simon GE, Ahmedani BK. Suicide Deaths Before and During the Coronavirus Disease 2019 Pandemic: An Interrupted Time-series Study. Med Care. 2022 Mar 1. doi: 10.1097/MLR.0000000000001700. Online ahead of print. PMID: 35230276.