mental health

Editors' note: Invisibilia's back! Each Friday for the next seven weeks, we'll feature an excerpt from the latest episode of the NPR podcast. We're also creating original features for Shots that explore the Invisibilia theme of the week. This Saturday, Hanna Rosin asks whether social norms have changed enough so that boys are no longer afraid to cry. On Sunday, we explore how the norms for sickness and health vary around the world.

Rachel Star Withers runs a YouTube channel where she performs goofy stunts on camera and talks about her schizophrenia.

Since 2008, when the then 22-year-old revealed her diagnosis online, tens of thousands of people have seen her videos. Some of them have a psychotic disorder or mood disorders themselves, or know people who do.

Washington’s troubled Western State Hospital won’t lose nearly $50 million in federal funding -- for now. On Friday morning, Gov. Jay Inslee announced a 13-month turnaround agreement with the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

The jet sitting at Air Hollywood's studio near the Burbank airport in Southern California was once the charter plane of the Los Angeles Lakers. These days, it serves a much different role — mostly as the set for movies and TV commercials.

But the group walking on board the day I recently visited wasn't there to film a scene. They were part of a two-day class for fearful fliers.

For participant Ronnie Michel, it was the first time in six years that he'd seen the inside of a plane.

Not long after publishing his first book, London designer Thomas Thwaites found himself with no real job and in relationship trouble. His book, The Toaster Project — about his attempt to build a toaster from scratch — was a huge success, but he found the whole business of being a celebrity thinker a hard act to follow.

To be human is to worry about getting by, doing better, finding love and accepting the march of mortality. Thwaites decided to try to escape the burden of being human — and he would do it by becoming a goat.

Working through a self-help program online can prevent or delay major depression disorder in people who are vulnerable, a study finds. Similar programs have been used to treat depression, but this may be the first one tested to prevent it, the researchers say.

Online programs for mental health problems can be as effective as face-to-face treatment and offer some advantages: Low cost, available at any time and customizable. But they're not panaceas.

The state of Washington has struck a deal with the feds to keep Western State Hospital open and funded. The Department of Social and Health Services announced late Thursday that it will negotiate a Systems Improvement Agreement with the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

How's this for a catchy book title: "If You’re So Smart, Why Aren’t You Happy?”  

Author and UT McCombs School of Business Professor Raj Raghunathan admits it’s a provocative title, and maybe a little tongue-in-cheek. But, he says the book is really trying to answer that question. Why are people who are smart—successful, high achievers—not as happy as you might expect? Listen below to an interview with Raghunathan about the links between happiness and intelligence.


It was December 2012 when the country learned about the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School, that left 20 children dead at the hands of 20-year-old shooter Adam Lanza.

After the shock and the initial grief came questions about how it could have happened and why. Reports that Adam Lanza may have had some form of undiagnosed mental illness surfaced.

In the '80s and '90s, America's suicide trend was headed in the right direction: down.

"It had been decreasing almost steadily since 1986, and then what happened is there was a turnaround," says Sally Curtin, a statistician with the National Center for Health Statistics, part of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

How do you help someone who is at risk of suicide?

That's a question that haunts the people of Greenland, the country with the highest known rate of suicide in the world and the subject of a special NPR report this week. The rate is about 80 per 100,000, and the group at highest risk is young Inuit men.

But it's a question that anyone, anywhere, might ask. Every year, about 1 million people kill themselves worldwide; preventing suicides is an issue every culture deals with.

The first death was on the night of Jan. 9.

It was a Saturday. Pele Kristiansen spent the morning at home, drinking beers and hanging out with his older brother, which wasn't so unusual. There wasn't a lot of work in town. A lot of people drank. In the afternoon, they heard someone banging on their door, yelling.

"Polar bear! It's a polar bear!"

On the frozen fjord a couple of miles away, they could see the bear. Hunting in the Arctic — bears and reindeer and seals and birds — is at the core of Inuit life, even today.

Kim Malcolm speaks with AP reporter Martha Belisle about the problems at Washington state's largest psychiatric hospital and why Governor Jay Inslee fired the chief of Western State Hospital.

Governor Jay Inslee.
Flickr Photo/GovInslee (CC-BY-NC-ND)

The head of Washington's largest psychiatric hospital was fired Tuesday. Governor Jay Inslee has announced that CEO Ron Adler will no longer lead Western State Hospital.

Inslee has already named a new CEO: Cheryl Strange, who previously managed the state public mental health system.

The main entrance of Western State Hospital in Lakewood, Wash.
KUOW Photo/John Ryan

Kim Malcolm talks with state Rep. Laurie Jinkins (D-Tacoma) about the problems facing Western State Hospital and why she believes adding staff and raising pay is a big part of the solution.

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