In The News

Helping Someone Stick With Schizophrenia Treatment
Posted on Oct 11 2023
Personal story by Dawn Brown, National Director of NAMI HelpLine Services: “My son, Matthew, was rare in that he was diagnosed at 8 years old. Most often, schizophrenia manifests in the late teens or early 20s. At 18, he had a psychotic break and required hospitalization. Eventually he found treatment that was effective, but it took quite a while. Once we found something that seemed to address his symptoms on several levels, he became treatment-compliant by taking his medication on schedule. But medication is a small part of the treatment plan. He’s also keeping his appointments with his psychiatrist and therapist and doing what he can to maintain his overall health and wellness. He’s 38 now. He enjoys his life. He has friends. He has places he goes during the day that keeps him engaged with others. But it’s been a journey. There will be many ups and downs. Over time it does get better. An engaged, informed loved one is often the best indicator of the outcome for a person with schizophrenia.
Parents say they're struggling with their own mental health amid a growing youth mental health crisis (
Posted on Oct 10 2023
Good Morning America
Research released earlier this year shows that parents and teenagers are suffering from anxiety and depression at nearly the same rate. Dr. Christine Crawford, NAMI associate medical director, said she's seeing a rise not only in the number of kids with mental health struggles, but also in the number of parents and caregivers who are trying to help them. Crawford said, "Parents continue to see their kid struggling, and they're like, 'I'm putting in all this time and I'm not seeing the change,' and therefore they feel that it reflects poorly on them as a parent but then also on them as a person ... all these negative thoughts start to afflict them." Crawford said that given the crisis she sees amongst both kids and parents, she uses the beginning of each therapy appointment to simply ask the parent or caregiver how they are doing. "The reality is that kids are spending the majority of their time with their caregiver, not with us as practitioners," Crawford said. "So the work that we are doing as providers is not going to be 100% successful if we know that we're sending our kids home to an environment in which their caregivers are struggling each and every day."
Health Matters: Here’s How The Girl Scouts Of The USA Are Prioritizing Mental Wellness
Posted on Oct 03 2023
Recently, GSUSA announced the launch of mental wellness programming in partnership with NAMI, helping girls nationwide. Studies show that girls are disproportionally affected by the increasing mental health crisis in America. NAMI data reveals that nearly 90% of parents prioritize their child’s mental health over academic achievement. “NAMI is proud to support Girl Scouts’ effort to raise awareness for mental health and well-being with the patch program,” said NAMI CEO Daniel H. Gillison, Jr. “The reach and ability to support girls across age groups with tailored resources and activities is incredibly valuable not only for the girls but also for parents and caregivers. We hope by making it easier to talk generally about mental health with a trusted adult; girls will feel more at ease sharing concerns or asking questions.”
Act on the Facts about Mental Health and Gun Violence
Posted on Sep 30 2023
The Hill
Opinion piece co-authored by NAMI CEO Daniel Gillison and Kris Brown, president of Brady, about finding solutions to the gun violence crisis in America and the importance of not misrepresenting mental illness in the process. Mental health conditions are common around the globe, yet Americans kill each other with guns at 25 times the rate of other high-income countries. Most gun deaths are not the result of mass violence but are the result of suicide. Gun suicides account for over half of all gun deaths in the U.S. each year. Suicide rates reached a record high in 2022, with about 49,500 suicide deaths and more than half (26,993) the result of firearms. This number represents the majority of all gun deaths. Tragically, it is also a record high for gun-related suicides. Mental health is not the cause of gun violence in America, and we must stop viewing it as the root of this crisis. Together, if we shift our culture and amend our understanding of the relationship between mental health and guns, we can save lives.
Caring for Adult Children with Mental Illness: How to Help
Posted on Sep 27 2023
George Kaufmann described difficulties he and his wife faced dealing with an adult child with mental illness. “As parents and family members, we got frustrated. We didn’t know what to do,” he said. “We didn’t have experience dealing with mental illness. We repeatedly did stuff that didn’t work or made things worse.” NAMI CMO Ken Duckworth, MD, agrees that being a caregiver to an adult child with mental illness is one of the most difficult things a parent can face. One of the most common feelings that parents of adult children with mental illness face is the sense that no one understands what they’re going through, Duckworth said. They feel lost, not knowing where to turn for practical and emotional support. To address these concerns, Duckworth wrote the book, You Are Not Alone: The NAMI Guide to Navigating Mental Health. Duckworth encourages parents to attend the NAMI Family-to-Family program — an 8-week group run by family members of people with mental illness — which offers education about topics such as effective communication, self-care, compassionate support of one’s family member, and locating resources. People can share what they’re going through and find emotional support. Kaufmann, whose story was told in the book, went to his first meeting of the group 25 years ago.
7 Lifestyle Factors Help Keep Depression at Bay
Posted on Sep 13 2023
Among those who reported at least five of the seven healthy habits, the risk of depression was 57% lower, versus people who adhered to no more than one. Healthy habits appeared powerful -- guarding people against depression regardless of their genetic risk. The study findings do not prove cause-and-effect, but they are "compelling," said Dr. Ken Duckworth, NAMI CMO. He noted that the genetics of depression are complex and have not been "nailed down," so the risk scores assigned in this study have limitations. But the bottom-line message is a positive one, Duckworth said: "You're not helpless vis-a-vis your genes." Although the findings point to the power of having many healthy habits, Duckworth said that people can focus on the "small wins" each day. "Going for a walk in the park is doable for most people, even if they feel like they don't have the energy or the motivation," he said. Plus, small steps can lead to other changes: If you're more active, you might sleep better. "These things all build on each other," Duckworth said.
988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline adopts ASL services for deaf and hard of hearing
Posted on Sep 08 2023
ABC News
The 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline now offers American Sign Language services for the deaf and hard of hearing, SAMHSA announced. since the beginning, ASL services have been part of the vision for 988 and an important milestone, coming just after the first anniversary of 988. “Traditionally, we have seen that there are a lot more barriers to care for the deaf and hard of hearing community in accessing mental health services,” Hannah Wesolowski, NAMI CAO, told ABC News. “So seeing the video phone-enabled services being offered, I think it's going to be a huge improvement in making sure we're increasing access.” The Lifeline has offered teletypewriter, text and chat tools that are accessible for deaf and hard-of-hearing people, but Wesolowski noted that some of those options may not feel as personal for some users. “Being able to speak in the language that you are used to speaking in, and being able to do that via ASL I think will reach a broader part of the population,” Wesolowski added. “And the ASL video services certainly create another point of engagement, that I think better supports that access to care.”
Someone you love attempted suicide. Where do you go from here?
Posted on Sep 03 2023
Suicide is one of the leading causes of death in the U.S., with nearly 50,000 deaths in 2021, according to the CDC. The rate of attempts is many times higher, said Dr. Ken Duckworth, NAMI CMO. A survivor once told Duckworth that she felt like an “emotional burn victim” and every part of her was tender and exposed. “What do you do with that person? You want them to feel better, but it’s going to be very difficult,” he said. One thing that makes the aftermath particularly hard is the feeling of shame that often accompanies surviving a suicide attempt, Duckworth said. Even without any stigma, there might be strong feelings around a suicide attempt such as anger, fear, sadness or confusion, Duckworth said. When it is time to start talking, you and the survivor can set expectations together, either one-on-one or with a therapist, Duckworth said. He recommended taking steps to help expand the survivor’s view of available resources. Support groups may be available to allow a person to talk about experiences with those who share similar ones. Even though you may feel like it, the attempt is not a failure of your love and support, Duckworth said. NAMI offers Family-to-family education courses, Duckworth said.
Could a Folic Acid Prescription Help Prevent Suicide?
Posted on Sep 30 2022
US News & World Report
A new large-scale study analyzing a database of U.S. medical claims for more than 850,000 Americans found people on prescription folic acid had a 44% decreased likelihood of being treated for self-harm or a suicide attempt. Experts stressed that the new findings do not prove that folic acid reduces suicide risk, that will take a random clinical trial. When evaluating patients for depression, some mental health professionals order blood tests to measure folate, vitamin D and B12. "I do that all the time," said Dr. Christine Crawford, NAMI associate medical director. Given that folic acid is low risk, Crawford said patients already in treatment for depression could talk to their provider about adding the vitamin. "This is not something that should replace standard treatment for mental health conditions," Crawford said. "But it could be used in conjunction with it."
Suicides increased in 2021, especially among younger people
Posted on Sep 29 2022
Washington Post
In 2021 after two years of decline, the U.S. suicide rate resumed its upward climb, with young people and men hit hardest, according to CDC data. The 4% increase almost wiped-out modest decreases in previous years, with 47,646 suicides in 2021. During the pandemic in 2020, suicides declined, only to increase in 2021 with available COVID vaccines available and many people returning to their pre-covid lives. Experts say an explanation for the increase is still unclear. “The tale of this pandemic in terms of mental health is going to be many, many years to process,” said Hannah Wesolowski, NAMI CAO. The new data also revealed an unusual monthly pattern in 2021 with the largest increase in suicides occurring in October with 11% more than in 2020.