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Or in a crisis, text "NAMI" to 741741
A variety of COVID-19 support groups have emerged to help those who have had, or been affected by, the virus. Teri Brister, PhD, LPC, national director of research and quality assurance at NAMI, said support groups give people encouragement as well as valuable insights not available from healthcare providers. “With the scope and reach that COVID-19 is having on our society, it is only logical that support groups would be seen as a valuable resource for people who have experienced its effects firsthand,” Brister told Healthline. More people are reporting experiencing symptoms of depression and anxiety now than this time last year, or even 6 months ago. That can be from having COVID-19, being exposed to the virus, or simply living through a pandemic. “The experience of a mass trauma… learning to navigate an environment with uncontrolled exposure to an airborne pathogen with no known vaccine or cure is stress-inducing,” Brister said.
In the wake of nationwide demonstrations against police brutality, there has been a surge in interest in making sure mental health providers, not law enforcement, are the ones to respond to a psychiatric crisis. Dozens of cities across the country have what are known as mobile crisis units, which deploy trained professionals to respond to people experiencing a mental health crisis with compassion and clinical expertise. Now, with their work thrust into the spotlight, mobile crisis teams have been flooded with calls from other communities hoping to replicate their models. “I think the timing, the mood of the country is right to take some significant steps,” said Angela Kimball, the national director of advocacy and public policy at NAMI. There’s a need to build an infrastructure that can respond to people in crisis and get them the help that might be needed.
Bipolar disorder is broadly defined as a cycle of manic and depressive episodes, but there are actually three different types of bipolar disorder. According to Dr. Ken Duckworth, CMO of NAMI, bipolar I disorder is characterized by manic episodes lasting at least a week, or manic symptoms that often require immediate hospital care. The episodes of mania are typically followed by a period of depression. Duckworth said that since bipolar disorder is relatively cyclical, episodes may be triggered by similar things, such as time changes or changes in the seasons. "(Bipolar disorder) is a recurring wave that keeps coming at you," he said. "It might come 20 times in a lifetime, it might come 10 times or three times ... There's no simple answers." Duckworth said that for the most part, the best way to treat bipolar disorder is through a combination of a mood stabilizer, psychotherapy and community support connections. "There is no cure, but people can live successful lives with bipolar disorder," he said.
Tiera Hopkins loved to dance and was a fun-loving vibrant teen, said her mother, Jenny Morales. In 2012, at the age of 16, Tiera died of suicide. Morales’ grief still feels overwhelming, but she has become an advocate for destigmatizing mental health in teenagers and encouraging parents and teens to talk about it. Often people feel afraid to discuss suicide because they worry they’ll put that idea in someone’s head. But Dr. Ken Duckworth, CMO at NAMI, said that’s not true. “Mentioning suicide does not activate a new idea within people," he told TODAY. “You do not put suicide in someone’s head.” Duckworth said many survivors of suicide feel guilty that they didn’t notice a sign or didn’t do something and he wants them to know that a loved one’s suicide is not their fault. “It is valuable for parents to talk about suicide with their teens and to be really candid about it, and maybe even directly ask them how they’re feeling,” Duckworth said.
Cleveland Browns tackle Chris Hubbard joins "Good Morning Football" to discuss why staying in Cleveland was important for him and the stigma surrounding mental health for professional athletes. Chris discusses the stigma attached to mental health for professional athletes and his involvement with NAMI. The video includes clips from his NAMI Strength over Silence video.
Mayim Bialik says being quarantined has been a challenge for her mental health. The former “Big Bang Theory” star, who’s been open about her own issues with mental health, told Kelly Clarkson on her talk show that being home has not been easy. “Also, the notion it’s OK to not be OK. That’s some of the messaging NAMI, the National Alliance on Mental Illness, tries to really spread the word about. I’m not gonna sugarcoat it. It’s been incredibly taxing for many of us, especially those of us who struggled before.”
Long before COVID-19, the U.S. healthcare ecosystem was under stress. Constant political debates ensued about the high costs of healthcare while lamenting incomplete coverage and accessibility for vulnerable populations. The Hill brought together public health officials, policymakers and leaders from across the healthcare ecosystem for an online summit on Thursday, July 9 including a segment on Next Steps for Mental Health that featured Daniel Gillison, CEO, NAMI. (Video of the conversation)
Opinion piece by Dan Gillison, Jr., NAMI CEO and long-time mental health peer advocate Bill Carruthers, Jr. outlining the changes needed to effectively respond to people in crisis. A mental health crisis can be a frightening thing to the individual experiencing it as well as to people witnessing it. Those in its throes need help, but all too often get handcuffs. Our country needs to do a lot of learning and painful growing that includes a real conversation — and a real intentional change process — around policing and mental health, including the disproportionate effects on communities of color.
Call the NAMI Helpline at
text "NAMI" to 741741