Challenges Experienced by Behavioral Health Organizations in New York Resulting from COVID-19: A Qualitative Analysis

Community Ment Health J. 2021 Jan;57(1):111-120. doi: 10.1007/s10597-020-00731-3. Epub 2020 Oct 23.


This paper presents a qualitative content analysis of survey data collected from behavioral health care providers from throughout New York regarding the challenges faced as a result of COVID-19. Survey responses from 295 agency and program administrators and staff, representing 238 organizations, were analyzed. Ten themes were identified: business operations, service provision, telehealth, safety, client concerns, staff concerns, supplies, technology, illness/grief/loss, and communication. These themes represent concerns that arose from the rapid transition to widespread use of telehealth, limited technology accessibility for both staff and clients, reduced revenue and billing changes, impact of COVID-19 infection itself and subsequent deaths of clients and staff, and necessary modifications for organizational communication both internally and externally. The implications of these challenges and the need for further research to identify how to best address them are discussed.

Keywords: Behavioral health; COVID-19; Content analysis; Service delivery; Telehealth.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Behavioral Medicine*
  • COVID-19*
  • Communication
  • Delivery of Health Care / methods*
  • Delivery of Health Care / organization & administration
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Mental Health Services / organization & administration
  • Mental Health Services / statistics & numerical data*
  • New York
  • Qualitative Research
  • SARS-CoV-2
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Telemedicine / organization & administration*