Supporting Clients During the Coronavirus Pandemic


The Centers for Medicare Services (CMS) on March 17 issued guidance that outlines how telehealth (including teletherapy) can be provided and reimbursed to address the COVID-19 pandemic. Under this guidance, clinical social workers (CSWs) can:

  • Provide and be reimbursed for teletherapy to new or existing Medicare beneficiary clients
  • Provide and be reimbursed for teletherapy provided to clients when clients are in their home

Learn more about Telehealth

Managing Anxiety

There is widespread anxiety about COVID-19, which is common in the case of epidemics and pandemics. There are still uncertainties about this disease which also fuels anxiety and panic. Current or anticipated disruptions in day-to-day life, such as quarantine of loved ones who are in long-term care or skilled nursing facilities, travel plan cancellations or school closures, also fuels these feelings. Many people are experiencing mood problems, sleep issues, phobia and spikes in symptoms for pre-existing mental health disorders like obsessive-compulsive disorder.

Social workers are uniquely positioned to help address the mental health-related dimensions of health crises. They can help clients find constructive ways to manage their anxiety, especially if these worries are adversely impacting work performance, relationships, and daily routines. In addition, social workers can help parents and guardians communicate with their children about COVID-19 and allay anxiety they may have regarding the disease and its impacts.

For training on how to support clients with anxiety, visit NASW’s CE Institute. Also, read this article on NASW’s Help Starts Here website that offers consumers advice on how to deal emotionally with crises such as the Coronavirus pandemic.

Preparing for Quarantine or Containment Controls

As COVID-19 is being monitored globally and across the United States, public health guidance is rapidly changing. Social workers can help individuals be proactive in preparing for potential quarantine or other measures if COVID-19 is identified in their area. If schools are closed, how can families plan for the care of their children? If travel is restricted, are there relatives and neighbors who will need assistance? Have families stocked up on food, household supplies, and necessary medications in the event that people are asked to remain at home?

Securing Health Insurance Coverage

One of the most important interventions at this time is to confirm that individuals have health insurance coverage. Health insurance coverage enables people to receive preventive medical care to identify underlying risk factors that could make them vulnerable to infectious diseases. It also enables individuals to access timely, appropriate care when they are sick. Individuals and families that qualify for the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) or Medicaid can enroll at any time of the year, and there are enrollment options online, by phone, by mail or in person. 

For more information, visit and

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services has provided the following fact sheets on payment for medically necessary medical services related to COVID-19:

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NASW members, go to MyNASW, the online community where social workers are discussing challenges and solutions for practicing during the coronavirus pandemic.

Visit MyNASW