Woman wearing a mask looking out the window

Understanding and Managing the Effects of COVID-19 on Mental Health

Activity description 

The outbreak of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) has thrown us into a period of massive upheaval. A national survey from the American Psychiatric Association (APA) shows COVID-19 is seriously affecting Americans' mental health, with half of U.S. adults reporting high levels of anxiety. With so many circumstances out of our control, fear and anxiety can be overwhelming, leading to stress, emotional exhaustion and difficulty coping. The pandemic has also led to a collective sense of grief from our loss of normalcy, social connections and the world as we knew it. Although we know this is temporary, we anticipate that our lives will be different. Stress is a normal psychological and physical reaction to the demands of everyday life. However, unpredictable, uncontrolled stress increases the risk of vulnerability, and chronic stress can have a significant effect on physical and mental health.

This series of four half-hour podcasts will discuss the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on mental health, including the neuroscience behind our reactions to stress. They will explore how we can apply today what we have learned from past crises. These podcasts are designed to help clinicians understand the feelings that they and others may be experiencing during this challenging time, as well as provide strategies for managing both current and long-term mental health needs resulting from this pandemic that can be employed to support both themselves and patients.

Additional resources
NAMI: National Alliance on Mental Illness
Child Mind Institute
The screening tools mentioned in the podcast are available for download below under "Additional Information".

This activity is provided by OptumHealth Education and UnitedHealth Group Center for Clinician Advancement.

Commercial support
There was no commercial support received for this activity.

Target Audience

This activity is designed to meet the educational needs of case managers, counselors, educators, nurses, nurse practitioners, pharmacists, pharmacy technicians, PAs, physicians, psychologists, social workers, therapists, health and wellness coaches and other HCPs who have an interest in mental health.

Learning Objectives

After completion of this activity, the participant should be able to:

  • Explore the current environment with the impact of COVID-19 on mental health, including stress, anxiety and the collective sense of grief.
  • Explain the neuroscience behind how people behave in times of crisis and how the pattern of stress can determine risk or resilience.
  • Identify strategies to mitigate the significant impact on individuals, including support for both current and long-term mental health needs.
  • Discuss ways in which we can learn from past crises.

Additional Information

Activity summary
Available credit: 
  • 2.00 ACPE - Pharmacists
  • 2.00 ACPE - Pharmacy Technicians
  • 2.00 AMA - Physicians
  • 2.00 ANCC - Nurses
  • 2.00 APA - Psychologists
  • 2.00 Attendance - General Attendance
  • 2.00 CCMC - General - Case Managers
  • 2.00 NBC-HWC - Health and Wellness Coaches
  • 2.00 ASWB - Social Workers
Activity opens: 
Activity expires: 


Jeanne Gibson

Jeanne Gibson
Senior Director
UnitedHealth Group 
Center for Clinician Advancement

Dr. Charlene Brown

Charlene Brown, MD, MPH
UnitedHealth Care Clinical Redesign Team


About the presenters

Jeanne Gibson is a collaborative change leader in health care and has served in various roles during her 22-year tenure at UnitedHealth Group.  She is currently a Senior Director at the UnitedHealth Group Center for Clinician Advancement, where she promotes initiatives to encourage clinicians' development and recognize them as notable innovators, contributors and leaders in their businesses. Ms. Gibson defines her professional purpose as informing and encouraging clinicians to make a personal commitment to impact the Quadruple Aim while realizing their career goals. She believes that expert critical thinking, interprofessional teamwork and evidence-based practice are unique qualities that enable clinicians to improve the health care system for consumers, providers and payers.

Dr. Brown is the psychiatrist for the Clinical Redesign Team (CRT) with UnitedHealth Care. In her role with the CRT, Dr. Brown works with UHC members housed through the Housing First Program and those enrolled in home-based primary care. Prior to working with CRT, she was the medical director for a rural community mental health clinic treating adults and children in six counties in west Tennessee. She has also worked as a child psychiatrist treating children and adolescents in both inpatient and outpatient settings in a Chicago suburb. Additionally, she has provided psychiatric care at Cook County Juvenile Detention Center and Bay Pines Veterans Hospital.

Dr. Brown received her bachelor's degree from Tennessee State University and her medical degree from the University of Tennessee Health Science Center, Memphis. She received her master’s degree in public health from St. Louis University, where she also completed an NIH Health Disparities Fellowship. She completed her psychiatry residency at the University of South Florida and her child and adolescent psychiatry fellowship at the University of Illinois at Chicago. Dr Brown has a special interest in working with children and families.

Activity planners
Sarah Chart, RN
Senior Director
OptumHealth Education
Eden Prairie, MN

Rebecca Gleason, RN, CCM
Activity Manager
OptumHealth Education
Eden Prairie, MN

Disclosures of relevant financial relationships
In accordance with the ACCME Standards for Commercial SupportSM, OptumHealth Education requires all those in control of activity content to disclose their relevant financial relationships. An individual has a relevant financial relationship if such person (or his/her spouse/partner) has a financial relationship in any amount occurring in the last 12 months with a commercial interest whose products or services relate to the activity content.

OptumHealth Education ensures that the content is independent of commercial bias.

Ms. Chart and Ms. Gleason have indicated that they are employees of and own stock in UnitedHealth Group.

The remaining activity faculty or planners have no financial relationships to disclose.

Method for calculating CE credit
CE credit was calculated by the complexity of content.

Accreditation statement

Joint LogoIn support of improving patient care, this activity has been planned and implemented by OptumHealth Education and UnitedHealth Group Center for Clinician Advancement. OptumHealth Education is jointly accredited by the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education (ACCME), the Accreditation Council for Pharmacy Education (ACPE) and the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC), to provide continuing education for the health care team.

Credit designation statements

IPCE LogoThis activity was planned by and for the health care team, and learners will receive up to 2.00 Interprofessional Continuing Education (IPCE) credits for learning and change.

The participant will be awarded up to 2.00 contact hours of credit for attendance and completion of supplemental materials.

Nurse practitioners
The American Academy of Nurse Practitioners Certification Program (AANPCP) accepts credit from organizations accredited by the ACCME and ANCC.

Pharmacists/Pharmacy technicians
This activity is approved for 2.00 contact hour(s) ([0.2] CEU) in states that recognize ACPE.
Attending the full program will earn 2.00 contact hour(s).
Unique Activity Number(s): JA0007123-0000-20-142-H04-P/T

OptumHealth Education designates this enduring activity for a maximum of 2.00 AMA PRA Category 1 Credits™. Physicians should claim only the credit commensurate with the extent of their participation in the activity.

The American Academy of PAs (AAPA) accepts credit from organizations accredited by the ACCME.

OptumHealth Education is approved by the American Psychological Association (APA) to offer continuing education for psychologists. OptumHealth Education maintains responsibility for this program. 2.00 CE hours.

Social workers
As a Jointly Accredited Organization, OptumHealth Education is approved to offer social work continuing education by the Association of Social Work Boards (ASWB) Approved Continuing Education (ACE) program. Organizations, not individual courses, are approved under this program. State and provincial regulatory boards have the final authority to determine whether an individual course may be accepted for continuing education credit. OptumHealth Education maintains responsibility for this course. Social workers completing this course receive 2 live continuing education credits.

Counselors and/or marriage and family therapists
CA: The Board of Behavioral Sciences has deferred CE course approvals to APA and ASWB for its licensees. See those approvals under Psychologists and Social Workers.
Other States: If your state is not specifically listed, nearly all state Counselor and MFT boards accept either APA or ASWB approval, or are reciprocal with other state licensing board approvals, such as those listed below. Check with your board to be sure.

Case managers
The Commission for Case Manager Certification has approved this program for a maximum of 2.00 clock hours for Certified Case Managers (CCM).

Health and wellness coaches
This CE course is approved by ICHWC for up to 2.00 continuing education units (CEP #100115).

A certificate of attendance will be provided to learners upon completion of activity requirements, enabling participants to register with licensing boards or associations that have not been pre-approved for credits. To apply for credit types not listed above, participants should use the procedure established by the specific organization with which they wish to obtain credit.


Available Credit

  • 2.00 ACPE - Pharmacists
  • 2.00 ACPE - Pharmacy Technicians
  • 2.00 AMA - Physicians
  • 2.00 ANCC - Nurses
  • 2.00 APA - Psychologists
  • 2.00 Attendance - General Attendance
  • 2.00 CCMC - General - Case Managers
  • 2.00 NBC-HWC - Health and Wellness Coaches
  • 2.00 ASWB - Social Workers
Please log in to register.

You must be logged into your account to participate in this activity. Get started by clicking “Continue” and completing the “Pre-Activity Assessment”.  At the end of the activity, you will be able to view, save or print your certificate of participation. A complete listing of all of your activities can be found under “My Account”, “My Activities.”

Please listen to all portions of the podcast that you intend to before claiming credit.  Each part is eligible for 0.50 credits; up to 2.00 credits for the entirety of the podcast.