Friday, December 30, 2011

Dec. 30: Staying Informed! Mental Health News from Around the Country

By Brendan McLean, NAMI Communications Coordinator

From local events to tips to staying healthy to groundbreaking research studies, NAMI provides the most up-to-date information on mental illness from around the country on the NAMI Twitter page every day.

Keeping you informed about current mental health issues and what NAMI is up to as it happens is extremely important to us. Twitter allows us to let you know about the latest information on treatments or mental illness as soon as we know about it ourselves. If you have access to the most up-to-date information it can help you can make the best choices for you and your loved ones—or simply learn something new.

Connecting with NAMI on Twitter also gives you an easy way to contact and let us know what’s happening in your neighborhood!

Just in case you missed them, here are the five most popular links from last week:


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A Great Depression: Why Individuals with Mental Illness Aren't Being Treated: http://ow.ly/8dhUm
29 Dec@NAMICommunicate


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Even Today, the Stigma of Mental Illness Won't Fade: http://ow.ly/8dpMG Help us make a difference! http://ow.ly/8dpNy
29 Dec@NAMICommunicate


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Mentally ill flood ER as states cut services: http://ow.ly/8dal0
29 Dec@NAMICommunicate


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The Perfect Marriage: Science Begins To Explain Why Antidepressants and Talk Therapy Go Hand in Hand: http://ow.ly/8b8Av
27 Dec@NAMICommunicate


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Ethnic Disparities Persist in #Depression Diagnosis, Treatment: http://ow.ly/8b9tj
28 Dec@NAMICommunicate

To stay informed and get the latest information from NAMI as it happens just follow us on Twitter!

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

An Exciting Year Lights the Way for a Bright Future

By Mike Fitzpatrick, NAMI Executive Director

As another eventful year draws to a close, we continue to be inspired by so many passionate NAMI members and supporters. Thank you for your tireless efforts to make a difference in the lives of the millions of Americans affected by mental illness.

Despite the efforts of many in the provider community and in government, the gaps in the treatment system continue to widen. As the economic depression holds steady, the chasm between need and care continues to be devastating for persons with mental illness and their loved ones. Too many people with mental illness both young and old, including many returning military and their families, do not get the right help in the right place at the right time. Communities suffer and families break under the strain. Tragedies take place every day in our communities—suicides, homelessness, arrests, incarcerations, school drop-out and more. These are the challenges that we will confront in 2012.

2012 is also an election year. There is no better opportunity to engage your elected national, state, county and local representatives than an election year. Be active. These are perilous times. Organize, participate in forums, talk with the candidates, work on campaigns, and be active and visible. The potential for change is significant. It is essential that we get the change that we want.

Tell candidates how mental illness has impacted your life and why effective services and treatments must be funded. Demand transparency and public accountability. Tell them why research where scientific discoveries make tangible improvements in the treatment system and the lives of people living with mental illness is essential.

As we turn the corner into the New Year, we are thankful for:

NAMIWalks, which will be celebrating its 10th anniversary as the premier mental health walk event in America. Thousands will walk in communities with the sponsorship of local businesses and other supporters to raise hope and increase the visibility of mental illness as an illness like any other. We are also excited to in 2012 to continue our roll out of NAMIBikes cycling events in a number of communities.

The NAMI Basics education program, which is now available in 36 states, recently had the results of a two year research study published verifying it as evidenced based practice.

The NAMI Family-to-Family program that continues to reach thousands of families each year recently celebrated its 20th year with a newly completed research study funded by the National Institute of Mental Health.

Our NAMI Connection program, which now offers free peer led groups in 47 states. We now offer our Conexión NAMI peer groups in even more Spanish-speaking communities.

Our In Our Own Voice program, which continues to reach tens of thousands people with the message that recovery is possible.

Our recently created First Episodes of Psychosis website, which is now beginning to meet the needs of individuals and families who are seeking essential information and support.

The NAMI Child and Adolescent Action Center, which just released its newest publication titled, A Family Guide: Integrating Mental Health and Pediatric Primary Care [PDF]. This publication is very timely given the move toward integrating primary health care with mental health care.

The NAMI Multicultural Action Center, which continues to expand the reach of its effective Sharing Hope program into African American faith communities.

The NAMI Crisis Intervention Center, which recently published an innovative CIT for youth toolkit [PDF] as part of its overall effort to make the training of police on mental illness the norm in all communities.

We are also thankful for our busy website which has become an essential site for information on mental illness for millions. In 2012 we will be replacing the platform for this website which will give us much more capacity to serve you. Thousands of supporters now regularly engage us through Facebook and Twitter and our Helpline continues annually to receive thousands of calls.

Our collective efforts can and do make a difference in people’s lives. Together we confront stigma and injustice. Together in 2012 we will face risks, problems and opportunities. Join us in our Countdown to Recovery and help ensure a promising year. Together we will make a difference!

Happy Holidays! We wish you the joys of the season and our sincere appreciation for all that you do.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Dec. 23: Staying Informed! Mental Health News from Around the Country

By Brendan McLean, NAMI Communications Coordinator

From local events to tips to staying healthy to groundbreaking research studies, NAMI provides the most up-to-date information on mental illness from around the country on the NAMI Twitter page every day.

Keeping you informed about current mental health issues and what NAMI is up to as it happens is extremely important to us. Twitter allows us to let you know about the latest information on treatments or mental illness as soon as we know about it ourselves. If you have access to the most up-to-date information it can help you can make the best choices for you and your loved ones—or simply learn something new.

Connecting with NAMI on Twitter also gives you an easy way to contact and let us know what’s happening in your neighborhood!

Just in case you missed them, here are the five most popular links from last week:

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Survey: Law Enforcement Overburdened by Failure of Mental Health Departments: http://ow.ly/87JRV
22 Dec@NAMICommunicate

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Holiday Depression: 11 Tips for Avoiding Common Triggers  http://ow.ly/85nmr
21 Dec@NAMICommunicate

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How Do You Hold Mentally Ill Offenders Accountable? http://ow.ly/86x0I via @nprnews
21 Dec@NAMICommunicate

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After Drugs and Dark Times, Helping Others to Stand Back Up:  http://ow.ly/85nG5 via @nytimes
20 Dec@NAMICommunicate

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Between 50 to 75 percent of incarcerated young people have diagnosable mental health problems: http://ow.ly/83SW9
19 Dec@NAMICommunicate

To stay informed and get the latest information from NAMI as it happens just follow us on Twitter!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Dealing with Winter's Downside? Light Therapy for Dark Days

by Doug Bradley, NAMI Helpline Information and Referral Associate

The holiday season brings joy to most people, but the shorter daylight and increased darkness at this time of year can have the opposite effect on those with seasonal affective disorder (SAD). Although the symptoms of SAD are similar to those of major depression, they typically are only seen in one part of the year, usually in the winter months.

Because SAD seems to be linked to shorter days, much research has been done with broad-spectrum light, similar to sunlight, in treating this disorder. Using a “light-box” to simulate additional sunlight during the day has helped many people with SAD. Among the advantages of light therapy are that there are no pills to take, once a light-box is purchased there is little additional cost (unlike monthly prescription refills), and an individual can determine for themselves when to use it during the day and what length of exposure works.

Like all treatments, though, there are possible downsides, most notably the possibility of “switching” from depression to mania in people living with bipolar disorder. Also, like all treatments, it does not work for everyone; it is effective for roughly half of people with seasonal depression. For individuals where more improvement is needed, antidepressant medicine and talk therapy may be used in addition to or in place of the light-box.

One therapy in particular that may be useful is cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), which helps patients identify and change thinking and behavior patterns that are harmful or ineffective, replacing them with more accurate thoughts and functional behaviors. In fact, one early trial found CBT was even more effective than light therapy in treating SAD.

A small number of people have “reverse SAD,” getting worse in the sunny summer months and better in the winter. Although this type of the illness is less understood than winter-onset depression, some researchers feel it may be caused by heat and humidity, not the hours of sunlight. 

In short, while the winter months can be hard for some, there is help available. Every day may not be perfect for everyone with SAD, but the days do not have to be laden with symptoms of depression.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Dec. 16: Staying Informed! Mental Health News from Around the Country

By Brendan McLean, NAMI Communications Coordinator

From local events to tips to staying healthy to groundbreaking research studies, NAMI provides the most up-to-date information on mental illness from around the country on the NAMI Twitter page every day.

Keeping you informed about current mental health issues and what NAMI is up to as it happens is extremely important to us. Twitter allows us to let you know about the latest information on treatments or mental illness as soon as we know about it ourselves. If you have access to the most up-to-date information it can help you can make the best choices for you and your loved ones—or simply learn something new.

Connecting with NAMI on Twitter also gives you an easy way to contact and let us know what’s happening in your neighborhood!

Just in case you missed them, here are the five most popular links from last week:

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Writing may help #troops with TBI, #PTSD heal: http://ow.ly/80oZR Does writing help you cope with your illness?
15 Dec@NAMICommunicate

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Are Working Moms Healthier and Happier? http://ow.ly/7Zcdw
14 Dec@NAMICommunicate

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Can Dreams Help Heal Mental Wounds?:http://ow.ly/7XXou
13 Dec@NAMICommunicate

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Mental Health and Human Rights – a hidden emergency. What the WHO is doing to help. http://ow.ly/7WAXJ
12 Dec@NAMICommunicate

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Antidepressants: A complicated picture. NIMH weighs in on the issue: http://ow.ly/7WzWi
12 Dec@NAMICommunicate

To stay informed and get the latest information from NAMI as it happens just follow us on Twitter!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Books: For the 12 Days of Christmas

By Bob Carolla, NAMI Director of Media Relations

Books can make great holiday gifts. Here are a few around which there’s been some “buzz” in 2011. It’s not intended to be a comprehensive list and these are only a few suggestions. Scores of excellent books come across my news desk every week.

Non-fiction books, memoirs and novels all contribute to education and greater understanding of mental illness. Memoirs and novels can be especially good gifts for people who have never had direct exposure to the topic. They can be used as excellent conversation-starters.

For additional titles, browse back issues of NAMI’s Advocate and e-Advocate magazines.

Non-fiction
1.   Individuals who experienced psychosis and their families and friends who responded to NAMI’s First Episode; Psychosis survey in 2011 recommended  Surviving Schizophrenia: A Manual for Families, Patients and Providersand the more recent I'm Not Sick, I Don't Need Help: How to Help Someone with a Mental Illness Accept Treatmentamong the most helpful books.
2. The Bipolar Disorder Survival Guide: What You and Your Family Need to Know
3. The First Episode of Psychosis: A Guide for Patients and Their Families
4. A First Rate Madness: Uncovering the Links Between Leadership and Mental Illness
5. Living with Depression: Why Biology and Biography Matter Along the Path to Hope and Recovery
6. Loving Someone with Borderline Personality Disorder: How to Keep Out-of-Control Emotions from Destroying Your Relationship
7.  The 10 Best-Ever Depression Management Techniques: Understanding How Your Brain Makes You Depressed and What You Can Do to Change It

Memoirs
8. NAMI’s First Episode: Psychosis survey in 2011 identified two memoirs as being especially helpful to persons who had experienced psychosis or their family and friends: An Unquiet Mind: A Memoir of Moods and Madnessand The Center Cannot Hold: My Journey Through Madness
9. Just Like Someone Without Mental Illness Only More So; author, Mark Vonnegut, M.D., who lives with bipolar disorder, received one of NAMI’s highest awards in 2011 for leadership, courage and service.
10.  A Legacy of Madness: Recovering My Family from Generations of Mental Illness

Novels
11. Where are the Cocoa Puffs? A Family's Journey through Bipolar Disorder; NAMI Executive Director Mike Fitzpatrick has called this novel “a coming of age story that tells many truths.”
12.  It's Kind of a Funny Story, often found in high school libraries, helps to demystify psychiatric hospitalizations and open the door to class or family discussions of mental illness. The movie version received a Voice Award in 2011.
While there aren’t any other gift ideas for any other movies, documentaries, etc., feel free to browse the Voice Awards lists for 2011 and previous years. The U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) present the Voice Awards each year for films that present accurate, respectful portrayals of mental illness.

 

Friday, December 9, 2011

Dec. 9: Staying Informed! Mental Health News from Around the Country

By Brendan McLean, NAMI Communications Coordinator

From local events to tips to staying healthy to groundbreaking research studies, NAMI provides the most up-to-date information on mental illness from around the country on the NAMI Twitter page every day.

Keeping you informed about current mental health issues and what NAMI is up to as it happens is extremely important to us. Twitter allows us to let you know about the latest information on treatments or mental illness as soon as we know about it ourselves. If you have access to the most up-to-date information it can help you can make the best choices for you and your loved ones—or simply learn something new.

Connecting with NAMI on Twitter also gives you an easy way to contact and let us know what’s happening in your neighborhood!

Just in case you missed them, here are the five most popular links from last week:

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Pentagon opposes #mentalhealth program for National Guard: http://ow.ly/7Ue48
09 Dec@NAMICommunicate

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Possible Compromise on Labeling of Combat-Related #PTSD: http://ow.ly/7RDru Do you think the word 'disorder' is stigmatizing?
07 Dec@NAMICommunicate

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Spending on #depression up, but the quality of care is lagging: http://ow.ly/7RDkF
07 Dec@NAMICommunicate

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Will closing #mentalhealth hospitals end up saving costs or simply move them? http://ow.ly/7RCHJ
07 Dec@NAMICommunicate

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Anxiety treatment: Medication, therapy or both can help: http://ow.ly/7RCii
07 Dec@NAMICommunicate

To stay informed and get the latest information from NAMI as it happens just follow us on Twitter!

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Children in Foster Care and Psychotropic Medications … Monitoring Is Not Enough

By Darcy Gruttadaro, NAMI Director of Child & Adolescent Action Center

NAMI recently prepared a statement for a Senate hearing examining the use of psychotropic medication for children in foster care. NAMI is pleased that the Senate is looking closely at this issue and that the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) recently released a report on the issue. The GAO report calls for states to more closely monitor the prescribing of psychotropic medications for children in foster care. This is a critical first step, but is not enough.

Expert prescribing guidelines for psychotropic medications should be developed and distributed by states to agencies and mental health professionals that serve children in foster care. Training, support and technical assistance are needed on an ongoing basis to help ensure that the guidelines are being used and followed.

Given the high prevalence of children in foster care with mental health care needs, these children should be screened and for those who screen positive, provided with a comprehensive psychiatric evaluation and a physical examination to rule out other physical health conditions that the child may be experiencing. All of this must be paid for by Medicaid and private insurers.

Our nation has a critical shortage of child mental health professionals, making access to care extremely difficult for all families, including those involved in the foster care system. States need to support access to scarce psychiatric care for children by supporting collaborative care and integrated care models that encourage the development of partnerships between families, primary care and mental health providers. NAMI recently released a family guide on integrated care that outlines the effective collaborative care and integrated care models that exist around the country and that benefit children and families.

Our nation must get serious about providing effective and evidence-based psychosocial interventions to all children with mental illness, including those in foster care. Many psychosocial interventions have been shown through research to work for children with mental illness, some as part of a comprehensive treatment plan along with medications and some on their own. These include cognitive behavioral therapy, parent-child interaction therapy, functional family therapy and more. Sadly, these interventions are often not available because providers are not trained in them and/or they are not paid for by private insurers or through Medicaid. The provider community, state Medicaid Directors, private insurers, federal agencies and others should work to ensure that there is a trained work force that understands how to deliver these effective interventions to children both within and outside of foster care. The availability of psychosocial interventions will impact the rate of psychotropic medications prescribed for children in foster care.

Finally, more research is needed to better understand the long-term safety and effectiveness of psychotropic medications for children, especially very young children. With the exception of stimulant medications for children with ADHD, there is very limited research. Although medications, when prescribed appropriately, can be lifesaving for children, more must be learned about their long-term impact on children’s health.

If we want to get serious about protecting the health and well-being of children in foster care, then we must look at all of these variables that directly impact the care provided to these children. These issues transcend the foster care system and pertain to all children and youth living with mental illness.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Dec. 2: Staying Informed! Mental Health News from Around the Country

By Brendan McLean, NAMI Communications Coordinator

From local events to tips to staying healthy to groundbreaking research studies, NAMI provides the most up-to-date information on mental illness from around the country on the NAMI Twitter page every day.

Keeping you informed about current mental health issues and what NAMI is up to as it happens is extremely important to us. Twitter allows us to let you know about the latest information on treatments or mental illness as soon as we know about it ourselves. If you have access to the most up-to-date information it can help you can make the best choices for you and your loved ones—or simply learn something new.

Connecting with NAMI on Twitter also gives you an easy way to contact and let us know what’s happening in your neighborhood!

Just in case you missed them, here are the five most popular links from last week:

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Out of the Darkness: A Story of Love and Mental Illness: http://ow.ly/7J0WI
29 Nov@NAMICommunicate

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Rise in #PTSD cases from two wars strains military resources: http://ow.ly/7JMPD
30 Nov@NAMICommunicate

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After closing psychiatric hospitals, Michigan incarcerates individuals living with mental illness: http://ow.ly/7H9JT
28 Nov@NAMICommunicate

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Study suggests feelings of guilt may be a top factor in #PTSD: http://ow.ly/7H8lC #mentalhealth
28 Nov@NAMICommunicate

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Senate panel calls for probe of VA #mentalhealth services: http://ow.ly/7LgJR
01 Dec@NAMICommunicate

To stay informed and get the latest information from NAMI as it happens just follow us on Twitter!