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How the pandemic has impacted mood disorders | Mind Matters

According to Dr. Ken Duckworth with NAMI, one of the silver linings of the survey is seeing telehealth working well for people.

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — A new survey from the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) is helping us understand the attitudes surrounding mood disorders in America.

In this week's Mind Matters, Michael Aaron talks one-on-one with Dr. Ken Duckworth, NAMI's Chief Medical Officer, about the survey's findings.

Mood disorders are a common type of mental illness. They include bipolar disorder, major depressive disorder, and others.

The survey questioned three groups of American adults: those who have been diagnosed with a mood disorder, those who are caregivers, and those who have no experience with mood disorders.

84% of adults agree that stigma is a major barrier to people accessing treatment for mood disorders. 87% believe that mood disorders have significant economic and social impacts if left untreated.

"That survey found that 75% of people who are in care for treatment feel that their mood disorder is under good control," Duckworth said. "A whole subset of people either couldn't figure out how to navigate the fragmented care, I have to call a non-system, or they felt that they couldn't access care because they didn't have resources or insurance. So we continue to face real challenges in getting people into care. But we also heard very clearly that care works."

Duckworth also noted the success many people are having with virtual care options.

"One of the best silver linings in the survey was the knowledge that telehealth is working for people, that people using a video-enabled connection — as we're doing now — or a phone session if they don't have internet, works very well for people," he said. "And I think that's critically important to understand that we have a new way of delivering care that many clinicians feel is effective as well."

NAMI has chapters across the country, including one in Arkansas. NAMI Arkansas operates a statewide organization providing and coordinating a network of local support groups providing support, education, and advocacy throughout the state.

NAMI's hotline is available at 800-844-0381.

"I want you to know you are not alone," Duckworth said. "If you reach out to NAMI, you will be greeted with love and support. And you don't have to suffer with isolation."