Author Archives: Katti Gray

About Katti Gray

Katti Gray (@kattigray) is AHCJ's core topic leader for behavioral and mental health. A former Rosalynn Carter Mental Health Journalism Fellow, Gray is providing resources to help AHCJ members expand their coverage of mental health amid ongoing efforts to de-stigmatize mental illness and to place mental health care on par with all health care.

38% of those screened for depression reported suicidal thoughts amid COVID-19

Photo by Ross Sneddon via Unsplash.

Photo by Ross Sneddon via Unsplash.

The first of four briefs Mental Health America will release in 2021 has concluded that 38% of 725,949 people who completed the organization’s clinically validated mental health screening had suicidal thoughts in 2020.

The “Suicide and COVID-19: Communities in Need Across America” brief is based on an analysis of those individuals’ answers to questions in the organization’s online screening tool. In total, 2.6 million users did that voluntary screening in 2020, the highest number since Mental Health America in 2014 launched the screening, which allows deep analysis zip code by zip code of who’s in mental distress. Continue reading

As pandemic wears on, nurses’ mental health wears thin

Photo by U.S. Navy via Flickr

Photo by U.S. Navy via Flickr

A half-hour before nursing supervisor Jotis Lee was scheduled to end her shift on the Friday before July 4th, the text came through: A 24-year-old who was fully vaccinated against COVID-19 had, nevertheless, contracted the virus and just been admitted to the Department  of Veterans Affairs’ hospital.

That patient’s admission was another marker of the pandemic’s persistence, said Lee, who, at that Little Rock, Ark hospital, supervises a team of nurses in an outpatient clinic that mainly has done telehealth care during the pandemic.

“In many ways, the pressure has gotten worse,” Lee said, of the anxiety, depression and other stresses members of her team are experiencing. Continue reading

Focus on ‘practice-based evidence’ could better address disparities in mental health care

Warriors Against Trauma poster from a past National Children’s Mental Health Awareness Day campaign

Photo: Alane Golden via FlickrWarriors Against Trauma poster from a past National Children’s Mental Health Awareness Day campaign

The American Psychological Association’s Psychological Services journal is preparing to announce its first call for papers in the field of “practice-based evidence,” a body of research about mental health treatments primarily derived from analyses of evidence-based practice but enlarged by what clinicians of color, in particular, are seeing in community-based and -informed clinical practice.

Greater attention to this area of study would be a significant shift from the “evidence-based research” and practices derived from clinical trials that now strongly influence everything from the types of mental health care that health insurers will pay for to the areas of mental health research that get funded. According to critics, over-reliance on more rigidly designed and conducted studies, which often end up recruiting a disproportionate number of white and middle-class trial participants, results in standards of care that don’t address the lived experience of communities of color, particularly in rural areas. Continue reading

Schools still ill-equipped to serve special-ed students with mental illnesses

School desks in an empty classroom

Photo: Alachua County via Flickr

The mental health of students has been of particular concern during the COVID-19 pandemic, with some students more severely affected by the lockdowns and safety restrictions than others. Particularly impacted are youth enrolled in special education, a population already disproportionately beset by mental illness and school suspensions. Continue reading

Mental health services benefitting from telehealth expansion during pandemic

Facetime call screen

Photo: clappstar vis Flickr

Amid the mental and behavioral challenges fueled by COVID-19, expanded telehealth capabilities have contributed to a surge in mental health care. Use of the technology appears to have contributed to fewer no-show psychiatric and other counseling appointments among both new and existing patients and expanded access to care for patients in regions that pre-pandemic were bearing the brunt of the nation’s lack of mental health providers.

Once we’re safely past this pandemic, at least some emergency telemedicine expansions, granted through the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and state governors, likely will remain. As that future is being sorted out, it’s important to consider what’s beneficial and what’s concerning about treating mental illnesses from a distance. Continue reading