In The News | NAMI

988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline adopts ASL services for deaf and hard of hearing

Posted on September 8, 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 September 3, 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 September 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 September 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.


New 988 Lifeline sees major uptick in calls — but concerns remain

Posted on September 28, 2022

CBS News

In August, there was a 45% increase of people contacting the 988 lifeline compared to August 2021 with more than 361,000 calls, texts and chats. According to HHS data, answer rates and wait times improved with 88% of calls, chats and texts getting through this August, compared to 67% in August 2021. Less than 2% of lifeline calls have led to the involvement of emergency services. But when police do get involved in mental health crisis situations, the results can be catastrophic. Hannah Wesolowski, NAMI CAO said that police can rapidly escalate a situation when a person is in the midst of a mental health crisis. "Somebody in crisis may not be able to understand or react to commands that law enforcement may be issuing," Wesolowski said. "This could be misread by law enforcement officers who don't have the same training a mobile crisis team may have." Wesolowski said many people involved with NAMI have used the 988 Lifeline and have expressed relief they got through to crisis counselors quickly and received help. "988 is one part of this process and an entry point, but we need more crisis response," Wesolowski said.


Congress takes action to provide more mental health services at schools. Is it enough?

Posted on September 26, 2022

Spotlight on America

CA: Suicide ideation

According to the NAMI, nearly 20% of high school students report serious thoughts about suicide and 9% report a suicide attempt. The goal is to bring more staffing into schools for kids in crisis and the need is dire for school psychologists alone. A big question remains – does funding solve the immediate problem? The answer, according to Hannah Wesolowski, NAMI CAO, is complicated. While the funding represents a ten-fold increase from past investments, Wesolowski said, the need that currently exists is unprecedented. Innovative ideas may be needed to scale up the workforce in the short-term including training non-professionals to deal with mental health issues. "I think we also need to consider other para-professionals who can fill the gap," Wesolowski said. “How can we provide better training to all school personnel? All teachers and school personnel should receive more training to be aware." Wesolowski also said loan forgiveness and repayment may help increase the potential workforce.


How to Encourage Teens to Open Up About Mental Health

Posted on September 26, 2022

Psychology Today

For the column “Actionable Advice to Help Kids Thrive,” Ken Duckworth, NAMI CMO, shares his ‘Tip of the Week.’ He discusses motivational interviewing techniques to engage with teens. Motivational interviewing is a way of talking to someone who needs support but doesn’t want to be told what to do. It often produces better results for someone who doesn’t see the need for support. Applying motivational interviewing techniques can help parents talk to teens about mental health and encourage them to seek help when needed.


Opinion | The proof is in the numbers: 988 will save lives

Posted on September 21, 2022

The Washington Post

An op-ed by Hannah Wesolowski, NAMI CAO, looks at how 988 is improving access to help for anyone experiencing suicidal thoughts or a mental health crisis. SAMHSA estimated that 988 contact volume would more than double the first year. The latest data for August 2022 shows the number of contacts to 988 increased 45% over August 2021. That’s 152,000 more people getting help when they need it most. 988 connects people with trained crisis counselors who can actively engage callers and resolve many crises over the phone. This reduces the need for an in-person response. The average answer rates are increasing, with 20 states answering more than 90% of in-state calls in August compared to just seven states in January 2022.


Dr. Ken Duckworth discusses new mental health book

Posted on September 20, 2022

CBS Mornings

On the book release day for "You Are Not Alone: The NAMI Guide to Navigating Mental Health," Dr. Ken Duckworth, NAMI CMO, joined CBS Mornings hosts in-studio live to discuss his inspiration for writing the book and sharing wisdom from people with mental health conditions on different approaches to help navigate mental health concerns for yourself or a loved one.


Depression Affects Almost 1 in 10 Americans

Posted on September 19, 2022

US News & World Report

Nearly 10% of Americans suffer from depression, with the mood disorder increasing fastest among teens and young adults, a new study finds. Given the increase in depression, primary care doctors should be screening their patients for it regularly, said Dr. Christine Crawford, NAMI associate medical director. "Medical providers who are screening for depression signals to patients that talking about depression, talking about your mental health is important for overall health," said Crawford. "There is no need to suffer in silence with these symptoms," Crawford said. "There are treatment options available."

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text “helpline” to 62640, or chat online. In a crisis, call or text 988 (24/7).