A Triple Pandemic: The Implication of COVID-19 on Domestic Violence and Mental Health

PADV Crisis Mental Health Advocate

Summary Points

  • There has been an increase in intimate partner violence due to COVID-19

The COVID-19 pandemic and its social restrictions led to increases in the rates of intimate partner violence (IPV) and mental health symptoms. Vulnerable populations including single parents and communities of color were particularly affected. Not only did violence increase, but instances of abuse became more severe. Abusers used COVID-19 restrictions as a tool in their toolkit of abusive tactics. And while the global population battled COVID-19 and increases in domestic violence, so too did mental health concerns jump to the forefront of expert discussions. Although public health mandates, such as social distancing and wearing masks were necessary to reduce further spread of COVID-19, they served to create isolation and anxiety among the general population. Pre-pandemic only 10% of adults in the United States reported symptoms of anxiety or depression. However, this number increased to 40% since January 2019. These statistics were particularly high in women. Children were also affected with pediatricians seeing higher volumes of patients reporting eating disorder symptoms and suicidal ideations. Media outlets created hotlines and established resources that normalized the increases in stress, grief, and anxiety during the pandemic. However, mental health clinicians often were not provided training in public health issues to adequately deal with new clientele. Recognition by clinicians on how the increase in IPV interacted with mental health needs was often absent. Therefore, a large subsection of the population, those affected by IPV and mental health, was not adequately prioritized during the pandemic. This presents a major gap in services. Abusers often used survivors’ mental health needs and pandemic fears and restrictions to further traumatize and abuse their partner. If we want to adequately address and interrupt the relationship between domestic violence and mental health, we need to directly address both phenomena. Here are steps that can be used when working with survivors: 1) create an emotional safety plan; 2) explore or emphasize survivor’s strengths; 3) implement mindfulness exercises; and 4) model and highlight setting personal boundaries.



  • Call 911 – For mental health crises, specify that you’d like an officer trained in crisis
    • intervention to report to the call.
  • National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (English): 1-800-273-8255
  • National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (Spanish): 1-888-628-9454
  • National Domestic Violence Hotline: 1-800-799-7233 or text LOVEIS to 22522
  • National Child Abuse Hotline – Call or Text: 1-800-422-4453
  • Partnership Against Domestic Violence Crisis Line – 404-873-1766


For more information on intimate partner violence/domestic violence, please visit Partnership Against Domestic Violence website.

Author: Dr. Shatel Francis

Asset Management

The Lease Transfer Agreement clearly states The FDHA’s responsibility for ensuring that all facilities currently operated by Grady are properly maintained and operated. This mandate goes beyond functioning as a landlord, but rather speaks to an expected standard of care for all. The FDHA and Grady must work collaboratively to ensure that all Grady facilities go beyond the minimum standard of “fit for use” so that the quality of Grady facilities is consistent with that of any other high-functioning hospitals.

Innovative Strategies and Initiatives

The most recent pandemic brought gaping healthcare disparities to light. As Georgia’s larg- est safety net hospital (and only safety net hospital in Metro Atlanta due to the closure of Wellstar Atlanta Medical Center), Grady continues to see increased service demands. Often, the medically indigent and underserved use the emergency room for primary care services. Issues like housing insecurity and poverty place additional strain on the Grady Health System, particularly when other factors (outside of the hospital walls) inform one’s overall wellbeing. As Grady continues to seek ways to improve health outcomes in the community, The FDHA is tasked with identifying innovative ways to support Grady’s efforts and broaden its reach into targeted sectors of the community. This pillar also speaks to The FDHA’s efforts to work collaboratively through grantmaking with organizations whose mission, vision, and work align with The FDHA’s priorities and goals. Through structured strategic partnerships, focused and aligned grant making, and ongoing community engagement, The FDHA will assume a leadership role in the health ecosystem.

Stakeholder Engagement

There are many stakeholders within the Fulton/DeKalb health ecosystem. Stakeholders can be characterizedas individuals, groups, or organizations whose efforts either inform healthcare outcomes or are impacted by healthcare outcomes. Grady remains The FDHA’s most important partner in this effort and a key stakeholder in the health ecosystem. As the daily operators of all of Grady’s health facilities, hundreds of thousands of patients per year (more than 700,000) are impacted. Maintaining consistent communication and collaboration with Grady’s Executive Leadership Team and staff is central to the success of The FDHA.


Similarly, The FDHA’s alignment and support of Grady’s population health and community engagement efforts are invaluable. As a grantor, The FDHA has an extensive network of community-based partners that work daily to provide direct services and/or support various health priorities. Many of these organizations provide services directly related to social determinants of health (i.e., housing, education, transportation, etc.) thereby adding value to the continuum of care. As The FDHA seeks to embrace a more prominent role as a convener, organizer, and facilitator in the health ecosystem, engaging stakeholders with purpose and intentionality becomes increasingly important.

Organizational Capacity & Accountability

The FDHA’s obligations, relative to its role as owners of the facilities operated by Grady and stewards of county resources entrusted to Grady, require the requisite skills of staff to execute key administrative and regulatory functions. Establishing and maintaining a staffing model that adequately responds to the needs of the agency is vital. Of equal importance is the establishment and maintenance of high-functioning financial management systems and general operations controls. Critical front and back-office functions should be insulated from staff turnover or shifts in organizational priorities. The provision of ongoing staff development opportunities will ensure that team members stay abreast of industry standards, best practices, and leading-edge opportunities. In addition, the curation and maintenance of financial management best practices ensure organizational accountability and responsiveness.

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