News Flash


Posted on: July 28, 2022

COVID Impacts on Virginia Behavioral Health Services Report Now Available

The OMNI SOR TA Team is pleased to share a new report: “COVID Impacts on Virginia Behavioral Health Services.” This exploration has demonstrated the complexity of the landscape for substance use services during COVID-19 due to changes in policies, access to services, and funding. OMNI Institute prepared this report for DBHDS utilizing Virginia SOR grant GPRA data and publicly available state and national data sources. It explores how the pandemic has affected behavioral health services. Some key findings:

  • The COVID-19 pandemic has had wide-ranging impacts on substance use rates and mental health. For instance, over the two years of the pandemic, substance-related deaths and ED visit rates steadily increased in Virginia, per the Virginia Department of Health. This aligns with national trends.
  • There was a drop in individuals entering services early in the pandemic, shown in both statewide service data and GPRA data. In contrast, EMS opioid-related calls increased, indicating that the need for services was still high, and many individuals engaged with the health system through emergency rather than outpatient services during the initial months of the pandemic.
  • Lockdowns, stay-in-place orders, and continued disruptions caused fluctuations in those seeking mental health and substance use services. Nearly half (43%) of CSBs reported that individuals required a higher level of care than before the pandemic.
  • There was a statistically significant increase in the percentage of individuals diagnosed with mild alcohol use disorder before and during the pandemic. This aligns with national trends. Conversely, there was a statistically significant decrease in the percentage of individuals diagnosed with OUD at each severity level.
  • Peer Recovery Services were instrumental in transitioning support services to virtual platforms during this time, as well as providing access to the required technology, such as hosting socially-distanced computer lab hours and bringing laptops and portable Wi-Fi to community members.

Here is a link to this brief report that provides much more detail on these findings. We invite you to read it. Thank you for your continued contribution throughout the pandemic to the data used in this report. Please reach out with questions for our team at

Facebook Twitter Email

Other News in Home