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(CW: Suicidal Ideation) Specifically, 988 calls will be answered by trained crisis counselors who can also link callers to more resources. If further intervention is needed, a team of behavioral health professionals — not police — are supposed to respond. “We want to avoid that escalation, and make sure we’re not putting law enforcement in that situation where they may not be equipped to respond,” said Hannah Wesolowski, NAMI chief advocacy officer. “The goal is help, not handcuffs.” New Jersey is preparing for the call volume to increase from 55,000 last year to 83,000 in the first year of the initiative. The state is also expanding access to mental health services. The article includes the NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness) HelpLine: (800) 950-6264 and homepage link.
(CW: Suicide) This is Part 1 of a special series about 988 that explores what it will take for this new nationwide hotline to meet the needs of millions of people struggling with suicide, addiction and mental illness. “We have funded mental health this way for decades. It is pennies here, pennies there. It is out of the goodness of people's hearts that organizations are there to support people, experiencing mental health conditions. I'm hoping policymakers make the investments that we know we need to make, said Hannah Wesolowski, NAMI CAO.
The California law is a positive step forward, as students are likely going to face mental health fallout from the pandemic for years to come, said Hannah Wesolowski, NAMI CAO. “We are deeply concerned around what the COVID-19 pandemic has done to youth mental health,” Wesolowski said. “The earlier we can intervene, the better we’re going to be as we deal with a very long mental health tail to this pandemic.” What’s unique about the California law is that it considers cultural factors in mental health, she said, including the consideration of LGBTQ students, who can face higher rates of suicide. “I think there is widespread agreement that our children’s mental health is suffering right now,” Wesolowski said. “We’re starting to see a tide shift, and I think state leaders are realizing that they have to do something. We’re all going to pay the price if we don’t address this children’s mental health epidemic.”
Rep. Jamie Raskin (Md.) opens up in a new documentary about the death of his 25-year-old son Tommy, who died by suicide. The segment features Dr. Christine Crawford, associate medical director of NAMI, discussing general mental health concerns and symptoms in in the wake of the youth mental health crisis. The documentary shines a light on depression and anxiety spiking during the pandemic, particularly for younger adults.
Schizoaffective disorder is a chronic mental health condition. According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, the hallmarks of schizoaffective disorder include psychotic symptoms of schizophrenia — like hallucinations or delusions, with symptoms of a mood disorder like mania or depression. It’s a rare condition, with a lifetime prevalence of just 0.3%. Finding help for schizophrenia and schizoaffective disorder can be overwhelming or intimidating. It can be hard to know where to look and what to trust. Organizations that can help includes Find Your Local National Alliance on Mental Illness.
Give yourself a moment to take in the situation. Notice if the person appears agitated, angry, restless or engaging in risky behavior, advised Dawn Brown, national director of NAMI HelpLine Services. “That person is likely at a point in a mental health crisis where they’re at imminent risk of hurting themselves or someone else,” Brown said. NAMI’s national helpline also connects callers to local support groups, recovery strategies, resource referrals and other information. Call 1-800-950-NAMI (1-800-950-6264) or text “NAMI” to 741-741 to connect with a trained crisis counselor. One of the best tools in your toolkit is empathy, Brown said. If you work on extending empathy to others in your daily life, you’ll be more equipped to do so to a stranger.
States have known 988, scheduled to go live on July 16, was coming and that they would be responsible for making it work. But 988 implementation laws that include fee measures to pay for the expected increase in calls have been passed by only four states - Virginia, Nevada, Washington and Colorado, according to NAMI. Few states have resources such as mobile crisis teams in place to respond to calls for help. Statewide crisis services are available or are being ramped up in Virginia, Utah, Oregon, Washington, Nevada and Colorado, according to NAMI. "In some places, you're probably in good shape," said Hannah Wesolowski, NAMI chief advocacy officer. "You could call 988 and there are going to be mobile crisis teams and a pretty robust crisis infrastructure. But in other places, good luck."
Almost nine in 10 college students think campuses are facing a mental health crisis, according to a new survey from TimelyMD. The survey of nearly 1,700 college students found that 88% believe there is a mental health crisis on college campuses. “With the Omicron variant, the uncertainty and isolation that we saw at the beginning of the pandemic really is back,” said Barb Solish, director of youth and young adult initiatives at NAMI. “And our students are struggling because of it. So, bottom line, how can we reasonably expect them to be back to ‘normal’ when life is anything but that?” College mental health systems were underfunded, understaffed and underprioritized before the pandemic started, Solish said, and they’re stretched even thinner now given the increased demand for their services. “Schools really need to recognize that it’s time to invest in the total well-being of their students,” Solish said.
Breakups are a fact of life. Whether your connection is friendly, romantic or professional, many relationships run their course including with a therapist. “Therapy is often life-changing,” said Dr. Christine Crawford, associate medical director of NAMI. “Some patients come riddled with anxieties, depression, and self-doubt and leave with a fresh perspective, new insights and a variety of tools and strategies to better cope with the world around them.” Crawford warns that “therapy is not a one-size-fits-all model,” and that therapists need to adapt to accommodate the patient and their unique needs. Crawford advises that trust is crucial to a successful outcome in therapy. “If you’re ever worried about being totally honest with your therapist, that’s a red flag,” she said. “There’s nothing wrong with telling your therapist that something they told you doesn’t sit well or sound right to you. If doing so makes them at all combative, it’s OK to not return,” Crawford said.
In an opinion piece, NAMI Youth Ambassador Alaina Stanisci shares her personal experience and perspective on youth mental health issues. Alaina wrote: Seemingly out of nowhere, when I was 10 years old, I developed severe anorexia nervosa that almost killed me, and my whole world was flipped upside down. So many of my peers have told me that they also felt as if they had to shield their emotions from everybody else and continue going through the motions of life as if nothing was ever wrong. However, whether it's anxiety, depression, anorexia, bipolar disorder or anything else, we have seen that bottling up these emotions will lead to more collateral damage in the end. When somebody breaks their arm, they are treated with empathy and kindness and do not feel that they have to hide their injury. Why does somebody with mental illness not feel that they deserve this same empathy and kindness? I believe that the key to ending the mental health epidemic among teens is to normalize the struggle, educate those around us and be vulnerable about our struggles.”
In a crisis? Call or text 988.