Mental health and clinical psychological science in the time of COVID-19: Challenges, opportunities, and a call to action

Am Psychol. 2021 Apr;76(3):409-426. doi: 10.1037/amp0000707. Epub 2020 Aug 10.


COVID-19 presents significant social, economic, and medical challenges. Because COVID-19 has already begun to precipitate huge increases in mental health problems, clinical psychological science must assert a leadership role in guiding a national response to this secondary crisis. In this article, COVID-19 is conceptualized as a unique, compounding, multidimensional stressor that will create a vast need for intervention and necessitate new paradigms for mental health service delivery and training. Urgent challenge areas across developmental periods are discussed, followed by a review of psychological symptoms that likely will increase in prevalence and require innovative solutions in both science and practice. Implications for new research directions, clinical approaches, and policy issues are discussed to highlight the opportunities for clinical psychological science to emerge as an updated, contemporary field capable of addressing the burden of mental illness and distress in the wake of COVID-19 and beyond. (PsycInfo Database Record (c) 2021 APA, all rights reserved).

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Behavioral Symptoms* / etiology
  • Behavioral Symptoms* / psychology
  • Behavioral Symptoms* / therapy
  • COVID-19*
  • Child
  • Delivery of Health Care* / organization & administration
  • Delivery of Health Care* / standards
  • Delivery of Health Care* / trends
  • Humans
  • Mental Disorders* / etiology
  • Mental Disorders* / psychology
  • Mental Disorders* / therapy
  • Mental Health Services* / organization & administration
  • Mental Health Services* / standards
  • Mental Health Services* / trends
  • Middle Aged
  • Psychology, Clinical*
  • Suicide* / psychology
  • Young Adult