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Mayor de Blasio and First Lady McCray today announced Mental Health for All, a new comprehensive plan to deliver universal access to mental health support to all New Yorkers. The plan builds on the work of ThriveNYC and other City agencies and lays out a path to ensure that mental health is a permanent part of City government’s response. The Mayor’s Office of Community Mental Health will ensure that this commitment remains a lasting part of City government. “The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) applauds the creation of the New York City Mayor’s Office of Mental Health Innovation,” said Daniel H. Gillison Jr, NAMI CEO. “The City is making mental health issues a priority, which shows a lasting commitment to provide mental health for all. The time is now for leaders at all levels — community, state and federal government — to follow the precedent set by New York City to ensure that mental health is front and center in COVID-19 recovery efforts to make it easier for people to find the help they need so no one feels alone in their struggle.”
Look, we’re all going to be messed up for a while from COVID. Some of us a lot, some of us a little. But it’s trauma. It’s an event more powerful than the brain can handle and that means mental health repercussions down the road. So let’s talk about what might happen. Dr. Ken Duckworth, CMO of NAMI, provides insight into how trauma works.
Bipolar disorder affects about 6 million American adults, and it usually shows up in the late teens or early 20s. Medications, including the mood stabilizer lithium, can even out the highs and lows. Antipsychotics, anticonvulsants, and antidepressants may also be prescribed; cognitive behavioral therapy has been found to be helpful in reducing the severity of symptoms. Having a support system is extremely important, too. When you’re scheduling something with a friend who is struggling, “give him the choice to participate or not,” says Katrina Gay of NAMI. Understand that if he does come with you, he may have to leave early, and that it might be really hard for him to make any long-term commitments.
Dr. Christine Crawford, Associate Medical Director for NAMI, previously told IndyStar that dealing with the emotional stress and trauma that comes with being Black in America is like wearing a sticky suit. From the smallest microaggression to the most overt racism, everything remains and takes its toll. “Something as common as, ‘oh, you speak pretty well for a Black person.’ These kinds of subtle comments over time, they add up. They stick to you. They start to weigh you down and you have this burden,” Crawford said. “Seeing someone on TV that looks like you being shot in the back multiple times by police in front of their children in the car, that also stays with you." Crawford adds that people begin carrying that burden at an early age. She says children of color can experience vicarious racism that affects their worldview when people in their lives or people who resemble them are victimized. “When a racist incident happens to someone that the child knows whether that's a parent or someone else in the family, it's almost for that child as though they themselves have experienced that race-related trauma,” she said. “They imagine themselves in the place of that person that was victimized.” Crawford said these emotions can lead to young children being overly worried, irritable, on-edge or clingy the more they hear stories about racism affecting people that they know, or people who resemble them. "It's shaping how they view the world and it can erode our sense of worth," Crawford said.
A leading mental health expert has a book deal his publisher is calling an “authoritative yet compassionate guide to managing mental health challenges” anticipated because of the pandemic. Dr. Ken Duckworth’s “You Are Not Alone” is scheduled for the Fall 2022. “My dream is to write the practical ‘how to’ Guide my family and I needed,” Duckworth, CMO of NAMI, said in a statement Wednesday. “This book leverages a core NAMI value in lessons from people’s lived experience. The Guide also integrates that experience with up-to-date, practical answers to commonly asked questions from experts.” Duckworth’s book, which draws in part upon his own childhood and his father having bipolar disorder, is the first announced release by Zando, an independent publisher founded last year by former Crown executive Molly Stern.
As America’s mental health crisis spirals and pounds particularly hard on Black and BIPOC communities, and members of Gen Z, more than 200 businesses and nonprofits are uniting for the inaugural Mental Health Action Day on Thursday, May 20. Their emphasis is on the word action. Brianna Cayo Cotter, SVP at MTV Entertainment Group, says collaborations among partners are already under way. AARP is working to elevate action around the mental health struggles caregivers face. YouTube is teaming with the National Alliance on Mental Illness to provide training to people who create content on their platform. Many of the larger corporate partners are focusing not only on their consumers and audiences, but internally as well.
Actress, singer, and producer Corinne Foxx (NAMI Ambassador) is a triple threat, and she also lives with an anxiety disorder that she was diagnosed with at age 14. To alleviate her anxieties, Corinne continues to go to therapy, does regular exercise, meditates, goes on walks, socializes with friends, and makes sure to get eight hours of sleep per night. In 2017, Corinne partnered with NAMI to share her journey with anxiety and the tools she's developed over her life to manage her disorder. The response to her story was overwhelming and encouraged Foxx to continue partnering with NAMI to shift the narrative around mental health. "Once that happened, I was like, 'Oh, people are craving this conversation,'" she said. Today, Corinne says her teenage sisters inspire her to see the future in a positive light.
I think one of the things that struck me in doing the report the most was when I spoke with Dr. Ken Duckworth, CMO of NAMI, who said, "It takes eight years to make a social worker. It only took roughly eight months to create this mental healthcare pandemic." So the problem is one that was years in the making. And it's likely going to take that long, if not longer, to solve it.
U.S. children commonly wait hours in the emergency room for help with a mental health crisis — a problem that has worsened over time, a new study finds. Experts said the situation likely reflects a longstanding and worsening problem: The U.S. has far too few mental health providers for children. "The demand is crushing the supply," said Dr. Ken Duckworth, CMO of NAMI. Duckworth called the findings important, and said they substantiate the "crisis" the nation faces in its mental health workforce. But the central issue, Duckworth said, is that the professional workforce must be expanded. That includes not only child psychiatrists whose education and training take 12 years, he noted, but also nurse practitioners, social workers and other providers trained in mental health care.
"There is a difference between being informed and getting retraumatized." That's what clinical therapist Paul Bashea Williams tells himself and his clients as they struggle with the distressing images now resurfacing during the Derek Chauvin trial. The proceeding churns up a persistent trauma. The replay of George Floyd's final moments can feel inescapable, leaving many feeling raw, vulnerable and without relief. There are places you can turn for immediate help. The NAMI HelpLine number is included as a resource and links to the NAMI homepage. While the evidence surrounding Floyd's death is distressing for most audiences, it is overwhelming for African Americans. The article offers tips to individualize care during the trial.
Call the NAMI Helpline at
text "NAMI" to 741741