Searching For Normal

the story of a girl gone too soon

Want to understand mental health issues, diagnosis, and treatment approaches better?

A number of good sources of information on mental health issues and suicide are available. I have listed a few of the more comprehensive websites below:

www.nami.org: As noted above, the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) is a nationwide, grassroots mental health advocacy organization with state chapters. NAMI offers support, education, awareness, and advocacy; advocates for access to services, treatment, support, and research; and trains grassroots volunteer facilitators who host individual and family support groups in thousands of US communities. Through the toll-free NAMI HelpLine, NAMI provides free referrals, information, and support. Call 1-800-950-NAMI (6264), Monday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. (EST). You can join NAMI in advocating on behalf of individuals and families affected by mental illness. A list of current legislation impacting mental health is available on the website, along with an easy way to contact your legislative representatives. This website is a great place to learn about current public policy issues and is also an avenue for you to participate in influencing those issues. NAMI also sponsors public awareness events, such as Mental Illness Awareness Week and annual NAMI walks (similar to Race for the Cure walks), in an effort to combat stigmas, promote awareness, and encourage understanding.

www.mentalhealth.gov: This site provides one-stop access to a wealth of US government information on mental health and mental health problems, a treatment locator (enter your zip code), resources for veterans, information in Spanish, and links to resources that will help you find health insurance that provides mental health coverage.

www.afsp.org: The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP) is a nonprofit organization dedicated exclusively to understanding and preventing suicide through research, education, and advocacy. AFSP funds a significant amount of research, creates educational programs, advocates for public policy, and supports survivors of suicide loss. It also sponsors annual Out of the Darkness community walks to build awareness. The website contains a lot of good information on suicide—including information on understanding and coping with suicide and the latest research. AFSP holds annual advocacy forums to bring together suicide-prevention advocates, volunteers, and AFSP staff to network, share the latest research, and provide the public and policymakers with the information and tools they need to be effective advocates in preventing suicide. Participants from around the country share their personal stories and experiences with suicide, engage members of Congress in discussion on important suicide prevention issues, and share AFSP’s federal policy priorities. If you are interested in advocacy, you can become an advocate through AFSP. Advocates educate their state and local leaders and communities about suicide, help to shape laws and policies, and change the way others think and talk about suicide and mental illness. (Click on the “Advocacy and Public Policy” link at the top of the website’s home page.)

www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus: The National Institutes of Health (NIH) maintains a website, MedlinePlus, as a source of medical information for the public. Produced by the National Library of Medicine, it offers reliable, up-to-date health information—anytime, anywhere, for free—about diseases, conditions, and wellness issues in language you can understand. You can use MedlinePlus to learn about the latest treatments, look up information on a drug or supplement, find out the meanings of words, or view medical videos or illustrations. You can also get links to the latest medical research on your topic or find out about clinical trials on a disease or condition. MedlinePlus has a wealth of information on mental health and behavior-related topics, and its Suicide Health Topics page includes overviews, current suicide information, and research and reference links.

www.ibpf.org: The mission of the International Bipolar Foundation is to improve understanding and treatment of bipolar disorder. It's focus in on research, promoting care and erasing the stigma through education. Kay insert: Redfield Jamison, PhD, professor of psychiatry at Johns Hopkins University Medical School, world-renowned authority on mood disorders, and author of numerous books on mood disorders, serves on the Bipolar Foundation’s advisory board.

www.bipolar-foundation.org: As of 2015, Equilibrium: The Bipolar Foundation is in start-up mode. The foundation’s goal is to become a worldwide network of people with bipolar disorder; it is unique because of its two-way partnership between those affected and clinician researchers. The website is designed as a place for users to learn more information on bipolar disorder, to share experiences, and to get involved. At the “Choice” and “Medication” links, you can find up-to-the-minute information about medications used for the treatment of bipolar disorder and other associated problems.

www.dbsalliance.org: The Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance’s goal is to provide hope, help, support, and education to improve the lives of people who have mood disorders. The organization is peer directed. The website has a database of support groups (click on the link and enter your location to find a local support group, or access an online support group through the website). Use the website’s “Find a Pro” link to identify a professional or facility that others with bipolar disorder have recommended or to recommend a local expert or facility yourself. In 2016, the “Find a Pro” database seems to be sparsely populated but may be worth checking. The site includes an audio and video library and podcasts.

www.behavioraltech.org: The Linehan Institute provides information on dialectical behavior therapy (DBT), a cognitive behavioral treatment that was originally developed to treat chronically suicidal individuals diagnosed with borderline personality disorder (BPD) and that is now recognized as the gold standard psychological treatment for this population. Research has shown that DBT is effective in treating a wide range of other disorders, such as substance dependence, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and eating disorders. This website has a link to Behavioral Tech’s Clinical Resource Directory (CRD), which lists programs and therapists that have gone through training with Behavioral Tech or the Behavioral Research & Therapy Clinics at the University of Washington.