Find Your Local NAMI
Call the NAMI Helpline at
Or in a crisis, text "NAMI" to 741741
STAT spoke with teenagers, young adults, mental health providers and experts across the country to understand the experiences of young people with mental health conditions as they transition from adolescence to adulthood. Although NAMI is not prominently featured, we coordinated and connected the reporter with Kathleen Donohue, Teyah McKenzie and Lee Piechota, three young adults who work with NAMI and were interested in sharing their story.
Are we living up to the ideals and standards proposed by the 2008 Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act (MHPAEA)? According to some recent reports and measures, the answer is no. Why hasn’t the legislation done enough to halt disparity? Angela Kimball, national director of advocacy and public policy for NAMI, says it is largely a problem of enforcement. “There is a lack of oversight and efforts to make sure that health plans are compliant with not only the letter of the law, but the spirit of law,” said Kimball. This is one reason why NAMI undersigned a letter to congress on March 13, 2020, concerning the lack of parity oversight. As there is no single way to enforce parity, it is easier for noncompliant insurers to avoid getting caught.
The man on the other end of line, released from prison when the pandemic hit, battled mental illness and substance use. Desperate, he dialed the NAMI HelpLine, a free, nationwide support service for people who live with mental health conditions. “The guy was scared out of his mind,” recalled Ron Honberg, a volunteer peer support specialist, because several residents at the recovery home had contracted COVID-19. Honberg has answered countless calls in recent months that share a similar theme. The dramatic increase is straining the volunteers who support callers’ mental and emotional health even as the pandemic takes a toll on their own lives. NAMI HelpLine manager Quinn Anderson teaches her staff to imagine a swift stream flowing between themselves and callers that washes away emotional distress, and to take a break to relax as soon as they feel tense. The work is not all stressful. Helping others feel at peace and offering hope can be immensely rewarding.
The COVID-19 pandemic has had far-reaching effects, and a new study points to yet another: It may be keeping people from seeking emergency care for suicidal thoughts. Across Cleveland Clinic emergency rooms, mental health visits were down 28% in the month after the stay-at-home order took effect, compared to the same month a year ago. The difference was even greater for visits related to suicidal thoughts -- which dropped 60%. "These findings are important, but they give a partial picture. It's a first step," said Dr. Ken Duckworth, CMO of NAMI. For one, he said, the full mental health impact of the pandemic may be farther out, rather than immediate. And the data that researchers need to study the situation have to be gathered.
As millions of people around the world are protesting police brutality in the wake of George Floyd’s death, the Covid-19 pandemic continues to sweep the nation. Many people are experiencing increased levels of stress and anxiety as a result. “The effect of racism and racial trauma on mental health is real and cannot be ignored,” Daniel H. Gillison, Jr., CEO of NAMI said in a statement May 29. And a new survey from the CDC confirms what many people have felt throughout the Covid-19 crisis: the pandemic is affecting our mental health in significant ways.
Owning a handgun is linked to a substantially increased risk of suicide, a large study released in NEJM found. Ken Norton, a NAMI spokesperson and ED of NAMI-NH, said the new findings are consistent with previous research and “question the prevailing notion that people feel safer when they have a firearm.” “If you’re a firearm owner and you have had thoughts of suicide or you’re not doing well, ask a friend to hold your guns for a while,” Norton advised. “You make that admission to protect yourself and your family.”
The coronavirus outbreak, which has disproportionately killed black Americans, along with the recent police killing of George Floyd and the protests that followed to demand justice for his death, have forced black people to experience extraordinary pain and anguish. Tending to one's mental health at such a moment may seem like an overwhelming task for numerous reasons, including because black people routinely face barriers to seeking mental health treatment, like culturally incompetent therapists and discrimination in healthcare settings. Mashable asked both Jameta Nicole Barlow, a community health psychologist and the National Alliance on Mental Illness to share mental health resources specifically for black people. (NAMI recently published a list here.)
Racism and racial trauma continues to affect the mental wellbeing of Black people, who already face so many obstacles when it comes to receiving mental health treatment. As the National Alliance on Mental Illness stated, "racism is a public health crisis." If you feel like the continued incidents of police brutality and lack of injustice for Black lives (on top of living in a society that upholds systems of racism) are taking a toll on your mental health, the article provides resources that could be helpful right now.
Here's what you need to know about Mental Health Awareness month, what resources are available, and some advice on how to take control of your mental health during the coronavirus pandemic. Meanwhile, at NAMI, Daniel Gillison, CEO said that an online educational tool for parents looking to support their children who are showing symptoms of mental illness has increased in use by 580% in the past few months. Calls to their crisis helpline have increased by 65%. During this time it's important to be compassionate and gentle on yourself, but keep an eye out for any alarming symptoms or changes in behavior, thought patterns, or other daily routines.
Mental health experts are bracing for what Tom Insel calls a "mental health tsunami." They're anticipating a steep rise in the diseases of isolation—suicides, opioid abuse, domestic violence and depression—that will unfold over the next few months and could stretch on for years. So far, there's been little action where it is needed most: providing funding to address the mental health challenges brought on by the pandemic. "People have been speaking up about the mental health effects of this emergency, but we have yet to see real concrete actions to shore up our mental health system," says Angela Kimball, national director of advocacy and public policy for NAMI. "Any shortfall is likely to hit the poorest the hardest." Instead, patients have inundated crisis services lines.
Call the NAMI Helpline at
text "NAMI" to 741741