January 27, 2016

By Bob Carolla


Each month a swirl of news stories, some involving mental illness generally, others with NAMI serving as a leading voice of authority, helping to shape the news, are published across the country. The first month of 2016 was no exception. Here are a few of the highlights.

“You Are Not Alone!” – Media icon Oprah Winfrey has helped expand discussion of mental illness by rolling out a feature for the February issue of O magazine. In the issue, mental health professionals and individuals share their powerful stories. [People]

Ask Amy: What to Do When a Neighbor Might Have a Mental Illness – Syndicated advice columnist Amy Dickinson, carried in hundreds of newspapers nationwide, spoke with NAMI medical director Ken Duckworth about how to best respond. Both agreed that the first step is to simply talk to your neighbor. [Detroit Free Press]

FOX Sports Supports Announces New Non-Profit Partnerships to be Represented in 2016 & 2017Over the next two years, FOX Sports Supports, the charitable branch of FOX Sports, will partner with to raise mental health awareness across the country. Together with the Positive Coaching Alliance, NAMI was selected by FOX Sports employees to be an organization of choice for its charitable resources. [FOX Sports]

16 Ways to Improve Your Mental Health in 2016 – If you’re going to make any New Year’s resolutions this year, make sure at least some focus on your mental health. The article included a recommendation from NAMI Executive Director Mary Giliberti: “It’s important to get educated and empowered. Learn about the conditions and seek out assistance from a professional and other people.” [Huffington Post]

Obama Expands Gun Controls, What Does It Mean for Mental Health? In January, President Obama issued executive orders for gun control that increased debate over the linkage between mental illness and violence—which contrary to perceptions is relatively low. The President also proposed an increase of $500 million in federal funds for mental health services—a need that in fact exists independent of gun control. NAMI Senior Policy Advisor Ron Honberg and others were in thick of the discussion. [Wall Street Journal] [ABC News] [New York Times] [International Business Times] [WJLA]

NAMI Helps Set the Policy Agenda – In 2015, NAMI released two major reports which continue to get media coverage and influence policymakers. One, A Long Road Ahead, Achieving True Parity in Mental Health and Substance Use Care, which discusses insurance discrimination, has led to legislation now pending in Congress. [Behavioral Healthcare]

The other report, on state mental health legislation and the continuing decline in the number of states investing in mental health services, caused a leading publication for state executives and legislators to include mental health spending as one of the top legislative issues to watch in 2016 under “trending.” [Governing]

State media, such as MinnPost also used NAMI’s state report to help define the policy agenda for the New Year. [MinnPost]

Improving the Federal Response to Challenges in Mental Health Care in America – From an even an even broader perspective, Congress is currently considering comprehensive mental health reform legislation. On Jan. 20, the Senate Health, Education, Labor & Pensions (HELP) Committee convened a hearing on how to improve the federal response to mental health care. Hakeem Rahim of New York testified for NAMI and NAMI’s insurance report was also cited by Senators. [U.S. Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor & Pensions]

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