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The 2020 Children’s Mental Health Report: “Telehealth in an Increasingly Virtual World”

October 26, 2020
Report Includes Findings of New Parent Survey about Telehealth and Children’s Mental Health Treatment
  • More than 2/3 of parents who recently sought mental health care for their child have witnessed a decline in their child’s emotional well-being, behavior, and/or physical health since the start of the pandemic
  • Almost half say the pandemic has increased their desire/need to seek mental health treatment for their child — and nearly 1/3 said the same of themselves
  • Nearly 7 in 10 who have sought mental health treatment for their child in the last year have utilized telehealth
NEW YORK, NY  – The Child Mind Institute today released the 2020 Children’s Mental Health Report: Telehealth in an Increasingly Virtual World, a new analysis of the impact telehealth is having on the delivery of children’s mental health care in America. Utilized by millions of patients during the ongoing pandemic, telehealth offers an efficient way to support the mental health needs of children, especially those in rural, marginalized and low socioeconomic status communities who face the most persistent barriers to care. Telehealth in an Increasingly Virtual World offers a comprehensive overview of recent research and other key information about the state of this game-changing clinical tool that was once a convenience but has become, for many, a necessity.
The report includes information about the use of telehealth for the treatment of a range of mental health disorders and the delivery of other services, including neuropsychological evaluations and medication management. It explores the central issue of who benefits from telehealth, highlighting the ongoing crisis in children’s mental health care. There are just 8,300 child and adolescent psychiatrists in the U.S. compared with more than 15 million kids in need. As a result, a huge number of children living in “care deserts” never receive the mental health services they need; and for those who do, there are also significant gaps in the quality of care. Telehealth has the potential to expand access to quality care, benefitting countless kids.
This 2020 Children’s Mental Health Report, which is supported by Blue Shield of California, also includes the findings of a new Child Mind Institute/Ipsos poll about parents’ experiences with and attitudes toward using telehealth for their children, as well as their observations about the psychological impact of the pandemic.
Among the key findings:
Telehealth over in-person care:
  • Seven in ten (69%) parents who have a child for whom they sought out mental health treatment in the past 12 months have used telehealth services when addressing their child’s needs in the past.
The pandemic’s toll on children’s — and adults’ — mental health:
  • During the pandemic, more than two thirds of parents who recently sought mental health care for their child have witnessed a decline in their child’s emotional well-being (72%), behavior (68%), and physical health due to decreased activities/exercise (68%).
  • Most parents say that the pandemic has had a negative impact on their child’s emotional well-being, behavior, and mental/physical health, with 48% saying the coronavirus pandemic has increased their desire/need to seek mental health care for their child; a third (32%) also say their desire/need to seek mental health care for themselves has increased in light of the pandemic.
Favorable experiences with telehealth:
  • Most parents who have used telehealth since the start of the pandemic say that their child has benefitted from these services (85%) and 84% say that the experience of participating in telehealth sessions has been positive for their child.
  • Among parents who have used telehealth services since the start of the pandemic, 83% say they are likely to continue using these services during the pandemic and 78% say that they are likely to continue using telehealth services after the coronavirus pandemic ends.
“The survey findings in this year’s Children’s Mental Health Report make it clear that telehealth holds the promise to become an essential long-term tool for giving kids better access to mental health care,” said Harold S. Koplewicz, MD, president of the Child Mind Institute. “Our country simply lacks the number of mental health professionals needed to treat the estimated one in five kids who require help. Telehealth has proven to be a viable alternative and, for some who don’t have access to nearby care, an essential one.”
Additional sections of the report look at the expanded use and efficacy of telehealth during the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as evolving insurance, legal and professional licensing issues. Finally, it discusses a range of potential challenges that could stand in the way of a more widespread embrace of this virtual approach, from the practical (insurance, privacy concerns, cost, broadband access) to the systemic (racial bias, income disparities).
Blue Shield of California and the Child Mind Institute are partnering to provide resources and share the latest research on youth mental health. In addition to this report, the two are collaborating on an upcoming research symposium and the production of digital mental health guides as part of Blue Shield of California’s BlueSky youth mental health initiative.
A PDF of the 2020 Children’s Mental Health Report is available for download at
Conducted in September 2020 with a representative sample of 351 American parents who have recently used/sought out mental health treatment for their child, the full Child Mind Institute/Ipsos parents survey results can be viewed here:
About the Children’s Mental Health Report
The Child Mind Institute’s annual Children’s Mental Health Report brings together thought-provoking, incisive and practical information on child and adolescent mental health care, based on reliable studies and emerging research. Each year the Report takes on a new focus in children’s mental health; the goal is to spark conversations from kitchen tables to the halls of Congress and promote effective solutions.
About the Child Mind Institute
The Child Mind Institute is an independent nonprofit dedicated to transforming the lives of children and families struggling with mental health and learning disorders. Our teams work every day to deliver the highest standards of care, advance the science of the developing brain, and empower parents, professionals and policymakers to support children when and where they need it most. Together with our supporters, we’re helping children reach their full potential in school and in life. We share all of our resources freely and do not accept any funding from the pharmaceutical industry. Learn more at
About Blue Shield of California
Blue Shield of California strives to create a healthcare system worthy of our family and friends that is sustainably affordable. Blue Shield of California is a tax paying, nonprofit, independent member of the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association with over 4 million members, 6,800 employees and more than $20 billion in annual revenue. Founded in 1939 in San Francisco and now headquartered in Oakland, Blue Shield of California and its affiliates provide health, dental, vision, Medicaid and Medicare healthcare service plans in California. The company has contributed more than $500 million to Blue Shield of California Foundation since 2002 to have an impact on California communities. For more news about Blue Shield of California, please visit Or follow us on LinkedIn, Twitter, or Facebook.