In The News

Schizophrenia Stages: What to Know About Progression
Posted on Jan 05 2024
For many people, a key point in the progression of schizophrenia is known as the first episode of psychosis and tends to occur between ages 16 and 30. While the episode may trigger medical intervention and a psychiatric evaluation, an early-in-life psychotic episode does not always merit a diagnosis on its own, according to Christine Crawford, MD, MPH, NAMI associate medical director. “Prodromal symptoms can occur way before a person starts to develop the typical (active stage) symptoms that we tend to talk about when it comes to schizophrenia,” says Dr. Crawford. During this period, people tend to experience what are referred to as “negative” symptoms of schizophrenia. They become more withdrawn socially, wanting to spend more time alone, or they are unmotivated to do things that they typically enjoy, says Dr. Crawford. They may tend to be less vocal or not speak as much, or not express emotions in the same way as they typically would, or they seem more emotionally flat, she says.
How to Find a Great Therapist You Can Actually Afford
Posted on Jan 03 2024

It shouldn’t have to be so hard, but there are things you can do to make it a little easier. Explore your insurer’s directory of in-network therapists first, then browse online databases. You can check your insurance company’s online directory to start or call them directly to ask for a list of in-network therapists in your area. “Tell them exactly what you need,” Ken Duckworth, MD, NAMI CMO, tells SELF. “You’re paying them, and [helping you find a provider] is part of their obligation.” Some providers operate on a sliding scale with some of their clients. This means that the amount they charge varies based on factors like a person’s income, Dr. Duckworth explains, although how much of a discount they offer is totally up to them. So, if you’re drawn to someone you believe is an especially good choice for you, but they’re not covered by your insurance, this may be an option.

Proposal expands Medicaid coverage for mental health and substance use disorder treatment
Posted on Jan 03 2024

As cities from coast-to-coast grapple with addiction and homelessness, there is now a push in Congress to expand access to mental health treatment for low-income people. “We hear from families everyday who have a loved one who’s in a mental health crisis and there’s no bed available,” said Hannah Wesolowski, NAMI CAO. “There’s no place for them to get in-patient care.” That’s in large part because of a 1965 law that banned federal money from paying for mental health treatment in a hospital with more than 16 beds. “If somebody is in crisis, they go to an ER. There’s no bed available. Often, they’re discharged back on to the street. How is that helping the person and how is that improving the community?” said Wesolowski. Last month, the House overwhelmingly passed a measure to change the nearly 60-year-old rule. A similar measure is being considered in the Senate. “It’s the only piece of Medicaid law that restricts the type of care based on a person’s illness,” said Wesolowski

What Every Guy Should Know About Bipolar I Disorder
Posted on Dec 18 2023
In fact, biologically men are less likely than women to be diagnosed with any mental illness, including bipolar disorder, says Ken Duckworth, M.D., NAMI CMO, and author of You Are Not Alone: The NAMI Guide to Navigating Mental Health. He believes that this has less to do with bipolar disorder and more to do with cultural expectations of gender. “Women have more social permission to seek mental health treatment than men,” says Dr. Duckworth. “And the fact that men are less likely to seek help, this really complicates making sense of their mental health history.” Men are much more likely to turn to substances as a method of coping, according to Dr. Duckworth. “Substance abuse adds to the complexity of bipolar disease in males,” Dr. Duckworth adds. “Imagine you have a depressive episode. Then, during a manic episode, you drink heavily. You go into detox, and the next time you see the psychiatrist in six months you’re back to being depressed. So, the psychiatrist gets it wrong and says you have an addiction and depression.”
Mental health funding is fast becoming “the bipartisan issue of our time”
Posted on Dec 13 2023
Route Fifty
It’s widely acknowledged that there’s a desperate need for improved and expanded mental health services across the country—so much so that this is one of the few issues that appears to be gaining traction in both red and blue states. Significant investments have been made in recent months in bright red Montana and Texas and in deep blue California and New York. “We’re seeing record breaking investments across multiple states. Mental health is the bipartisan issue of our time,” says Stephanie Pasternak, director of state affairs at NAMI. “We review mental health legislation each year and the majority of them are bipartisan.” “I think we’re seeing the most innovation in crisis care,” says Pasternak. “It’s how communities across the country are rethinking how they respond to people in a mental health crisis. For so long, we’ve treated them as a public safety issue when it’s really a health care issue.”
On the Job With Bipolar I Disorder
Posted on Dec 12 2023
Living and working with bipolar is an “art, not a science,” says Ken Duckworth, M.D., NAMI CMO. That means, it takes time and creativity to figure out the right combination of medical interventions, including medications and regular therapy sessions, that will help you to live and work successfully with this disorder. Regardless of your current professional status, the first order of business after a BD-I diagnosis is to find a bipolar treatment approach that works for you—because management plans differ from person to person, explains Dr. Duckworth. Today, as mental health becomes less stigmatized, workplaces that prioritize psychological well-being are more common than you’d think, says Dr. Duckworth. So, taking the time to find the right company can make all the difference.
Some experts say Santa’s ‘naughty or nice’ list can be harmful to children
Posted on Dec 06 2023
Mental health experts checked the “naughty or nice” list in a 2019 NAMI YouTube video, “A Mental Health Message from Santa Claus." In the clip Santa says, "I think I did this all wrong. It started with good intentions, a way to motivate behavior, to codify gift-giving, to streamline deliveries, but 'naughty or nice' — as if some kids don't have enough to worry about, only to have me judge them without context, without perspective, without any sort of doctorate in psychology. Dr. Ken Duckworth, NAMI CMO, tells, "How we talk to our kids is important and holidays are no exception." He adds: "Some children will internalize a black-and-white interpretation of their behavior, taking it to heart." Duckworth says the "naughty or nice" list tells children their behavior is forever. "Life is a continuous learning exercise," he says. "Hopefully there is nuance in how we talk to kids about making mistakes."
An epic challenge: Running the 988 crisis line as the US suicide rate rises
Posted on Nov 20 2023
The 988 Lifeline has helped millions of people in crisis since the July 2022 launch. Several states have organized stable funding through telecommunication fees. While less than half have created or are in the process of creating legislation to fund 988. There is no pending legislation to financially support the line in at least half of the states, according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI). Hannah Wesolowski, NAMI CAO, sees that as a major stumbling block. Wesolowski said the most reliable source of state funding is a telecommunications fee on mobile phone bills every month. Even though all 50 states have a 911 fee, which no one questions, most states haven’t embraced the 988 fee. Only eight states have implemented it and the automatic cost tacked onto phone bills ranges from about 12 to 60 cents per month, according to NAMI. Politicians don’t want to be associated with requesting a telecommunications fee for 988 services because it’s seen as a tax, Wesolowski said. Some states have other methods of funding the program, Wesolowski said, they’re more susceptible to political changes.
Republican candidates are talking about mental health. Is there room for bipartisanship?
Posted on Nov 17 2023
Hannah Wesolowski, NAMI CAO, sees the rising prominence of mental health issues as an inevitable result of the record number of Americans dealing with conditions like depression and anxiety. “We know now, more than ever, that people need care,” Wesolowski said. “The conversations for better or worse show that there's recognition that we have to do something. We cannot sit by and wait.” Presidential candidates are addressing the issue, Wesolowski said, “because they know if they don't address it, we're going to face a tsunami of mental health consequences in the future.” Still, while conversations around mental health are gaining prominence, Wesolowski expressed concern that increasing calls for institutionalization of people with mental illness by some candidates in the 2024 race could stymie progress and could further stigmatize those with mental health conditions. “We can't just focus on locking people up or talking about people as if they are some other population. They’re friends, they’re neighbors, they're our spouses, our children,” Wesolowski said, arguing that efforts to re-institutionalize people serves as a “misinterpretation of what is needed.”
One Brooklyn community fears safety amidst a lack of mental health resources
Posted on Nov 12 2023
As mental health care shortages plague communities across the country, many Americans face a difficult question. In the rare cases when someone with untreated mental illness acts violently, what's the best way to keep both the person and the community safe? NAMI CAO Hannah Wesolowski stated the biggest challenge that we see is just the availability of care. Wesolowski added, “there's long waitlists for mental health providers. There is often inability to get care in an insurance network. If somebody needs inpatient care, which is not the first stop but is the right type of care for some people, it's often not available."