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May is mental health awareness month, and never before has the topic of mental health been more relevant. Experts are reporting increasing rates of mental health problems and predict this is only the beginning of a lasting mental health crisis. "HelpLine callers mentioning COVID-19 are most frequently experiencing serious anxiety about their physical and emotional health," Dawn Brown, director of community engagement at NAMI, said. Lynne Gots, a licensed psychologist, outlined ways people can protect their mental health during the pandemic in a NAMI blog.
The isolation, grief and economic hardship related to Covid-19 are creating a mental health crisis in the U.S. that researchers warn could make the already-rising suicide rate worse. A new study released Friday found that over the next decade as many as 75,000 additional people could die from “deaths of despair” as a result of the coronavirus crisis, a term that refers to suicides and substance-abuse-related deaths. “It’s useful to have a wake-up call,” said Ken Duckworth, CMO at NAMI. “Unemployment is going to have a very important impact on deaths of despair.”
In immigrant communities, fear and uncertainty over money, health and the future existed long before the coronavirus pandemic. Now those anxieties are getting worse. “Many members of our community are the ones keeping the stores stocked with all the groceries,” said Monica Villalta, the director of inclusion and diversity officer at NAMI. “We...see that the neglect of providing culturally competent...services has resulted in increased rates of mortality for African Americans and Latinx people.” Despite these challenges, there are resources that can help, such as NAMI's Spanish-language guide, “COVID-19 (Coronavirus) Informacion Y Recursos.”
Bebe Rexha hasn't been one to shy away from sharing her mental health struggles. The Grammy nominee first told the world that she was diagnosed with bipolar disorder in 2019. Recently, in honor of Mental Health Awareness Month, the singer partnered with Ken Duckworth, M.D., a psychiatrist and CMO of NAMI, to share tips on how people can keep their emotional well-being in check while navigating the stress of the COVID-19 pandemic. The two kicked off the conversation in an Instagram Live video by talking about anxiety.
ABC News’ Maggie Rulli on why taking care of your brain and body by finding your own therapy, including dance, is so important during times of stress and isolation. Dr. Ken Duckworth, CMO of NAMI, discusses the importance of prioritizing your mental health during the pandemic and the importance of social connectedness. There is no health without mental health.
For the second year in a row, the NAMI blog was named one of the Best Depression Blogs of 2020 by Healthline. Depression affects more than 264 million people worldwide — yet it can be hard for some people who live with depression to find the resources they need. Whether it’s a safe space to anonymously share your feelings, useful self-care methods, or the latest in mental health research, you can turn to these blogs and know that you aren’t alone.
Thousands of mental health care professionals based in schools are scrambling to shift their work online, speaking with students by phone and video call, to varying degrees of success. Jennifer Rothman, senior manager of youth and young adult programs at NAMI, tells Mic, "School-based mental health professionals are going to have to give a lot of grace" to students as they reorient themselves to social life, early mornings, and focusing their attention for long periods of time.
Mental health clinics are switching to phone visits and struggling to stay open during the coronavirus pandemic, just as more people need help. However, Angela Kimball, national director for advocacy and public policy at NAMI, said the federal government still hasn't made clear to states that Medicaid and other insurers should pay for mental health visits done over the phone. "This administration needs to remove each and every barrier to telehealth, because if we don't do that then we are not leveraging the current capacity that we've got."
Dr. Ken Duckworth, CMO of NAMI discusses mental health and addiction vulnerabilities during the pandemic. View the videoclip on Twitter.
With no end in sight, the mental health consequences of COVID-19 are starting to manifest. The country’s weak mental health system may not be able to meet rising demand. Even before the pandemic, half of adults with mental illness did not receive treatment, according to NAMI which has seen calls to its helpline rise by 40% during the pandemic. “The mental health curve is going to have a long tail,” said Dr. Ken Duckworth, CMO of NAMI. “When life finally returns to normal, the following year will not be a good one for mental health.”
Call the NAMI Helpline at
text "NAMI" to 741741