mental health | KUOW News and Information

mental health

Flickr Photo/Andrew Malone (CC BY 2.0)/https://flic.kr/p/4unt5o

Every healthcare worker in Washington is required to undergo suicide prevention training. That includes nurses, dentists and even chiropractors. Now, University of Washington researchers have developed an interactive, online training program called All Patients Safe.

Post-traumatic stress disorder is often associated with combat, but trauma comes in many forms.

Devin Kelley, the man we now know killed more than two dozen people at a Texas church on Sunday, escaped a mental health facility before the Air Force could try him on charges that he beat his wife and baby stepson back in 2012.

And President Trump, like many people before him, is pointing to mental health — not guns — as the cause of the church massacre.

Joel’s Law allows families in Washington state to petition a court to involuntarily commit a mentally ill loved one. In Pierce County, home to Tacoma, nearly 100 percent of petitions are granted, but in Seattle’s King County, most are rejected.

People who have obsessive-compulsive disorder can get trapped inside a thought. It repeats itself, like a stuck song. Did I lock the door? Is that doorknob clean enough to touch? I better wash my hands again — and again.

The biology underpinning this loop remains murky to scientists, but scientists are beginning to sniff out potential genetic factors behind OCD and shed light on how the disorder affects the brain.

In the living room of her Olympia home, Crystal opens up a large file box that contains her son’s life history.

“As a mom you keep those shot records and those test scores in their little file even if they’re in their 20s,” said Crystal, whose last name we’re not using to protect her son's identity.

But this plastic box has something else: a detailed record of her son’s battle with addiction and mental illness beginning when he was 12.

On a recent Wednesday morning, Denise Vermillion stood outside the Thurston County Courthouse and expressed the frustration that had been building inside her for days.

Efforts to turnaround Washington’s troubled Western State Hospital are taking longer than expected. The federal government this week granted yet another extension to give the state’s largest mental hospital more time to fix systemic problems.

Teens and children struggling with anxiety are often prescribed medication or therapy to treat their symptoms. For many, either drugs or therapy is enough, but some young people can't find respite from anxious thoughts. For them, a study suggests that using both treatments at once can help.

Josh Hanagarne is a dad, a librarian and an author. He also has an extreme form of Tourette's syndrome. But he doesn't let it and his tics — his involuntary movements and sounds — stop him from living his life. He says he actually chose to work in a library because it was the quietest place he knew of.

Josh first started showing symptoms of Tourette's syndrome when he was in elementary school, about the same age that his son Max is now.

Charleena Lyles' father, Charles Lyles, with his wife and attorneys
KUOW Photo/Kate Walters

The family of Charleena Lyles has filed a legal claim against the city of Seattle. Lyles, an African American mother of four, was fatally shot by police in June.

This claim is the first step toward bringing a civil rights wrongful death lawsuit against the city and the Seattle Police Department.

The author around the time that she was first assaulted. Tara Weaver
Courtesy of Tara Austen Weaver

Editor's note: Tara Weaver posted this essay on her personal Facebook page after the second presidential debate, when Donald Trump said that his talk of sexual assault was merely locker room banter. More than 4,400 people shared this story, and hundreds commented with their own devastating stories in the comments.

Illustration by Drew Christie

Bill Radke speaks with Katherine Switz, founder and executive director of The Stability Network. The nonprofit includes professionals who give talks and workplace presentations about their own mental health diagnoses and the stigma surrounding taking a day off work for mental health. 

Kendra Roberson, lecturer at the University of Washington School of Social Work.
KUOW photo/Megan Farmer

When 30-year-old Charleena Lyles was shot and killed by Seattle Police, her death became part of a legacy of trauma absorbed by the black community. Brain scientists are only now researching impacts this kind of violence has on the psyche of African-Americans and their involvement in the criminal justice system.  

Kendra Roberson, a lecturer at the University of Washington School of Social Work, provides therapy services for black school-age girls. She told reporter Patricia Murphy that young people experiencing long-term trauma can begin to believe that bad things will happen to them.

Officer John Hill and Ryan Miles, a designated mental health professional with the Tacoma Police Department.
KUOW Photo/Kara McDermott

Could Charleena Lyles still be alive today if police had not gone to her apartment alone? 

In Tacoma, an officer can call for help dealing with someone who might be mentally ill. They can call a mental health co-responder. And now, this co-responder program might go statewide.

KUOW’s Bill Radke speaks with Tacoma Patrol Officer John Hill and a mental health co-responder who works with officers – Ryan Miles.

Brettler Family Place, part of the complex at Sand Point Housing
Solid Ground

Charleena Lyles lived in housing owned and operated by Solid Ground in Seattle's Magnuson Park. The nonprofit organization manages a campus with 175 housing units for people who have come through the experience of being homeless. Mike Buchman is the communications director at Solid Ground. He told Kim Malcolm that a neighborhood has been created at Sand Point for hundreds of people. 

Jenny Henderson, Seattle mental health counselor
KUOW: Kara McDermott

The African American community in Seattle is in shock after city police shot and killed 30-year-old Charleena Lyles. Jenny Henderson is a therapist in Seattle whose clientele is mostly black. She tells Kim Malcolm that Lyles' mental illness was not taken into account. 

Tacoma's new outdoor shelter is similar to this fabric tent. It will hold private tents, showers and other services for more than 65 residents.
City of Tacoma

Showers, bathrooms, personal storage, outreach and community services will all be available to some 65 residents of a new outdoor shelter in Tacoma that opens in a couple of weeks.


Courtesy of Clayressa Borland

As I walked up to her house in Tacoma, Clayressa Borland met me with a tight hug. We hadn’t seen each other in two years, so we couldn’t stop smiling.

We met in a psychiatric hospital. 


Copyright 2017 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

Between books and movies, you probably have a general idea of what a criminal psychopath looks like.

BARBARA BRADLEY HAGERTY: Psychopaths tend to be people who show no remorse, no empathy. They're very manipulative. Often they're very charming.

Diagnosing attention deficit hyperactivity disorder can be difficult. The symptoms of the disorder, as defined by the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual, or DSM, have changed multiple times.

Even if you know what to look for, many of the symptoms are pretty general, including things like trouble focusing and a tendency to interrupt people. Discerning the difference between people who have a problem and those who are just distracted requires real expertise.

Impulsive children become thoughtful adults only after years of improvements to the brain's information highways, a team reports in Current Biology.

A study of nearly 900 young people ages 8 to 22 found that the ability to control impulses, stay on task and make good decisions increased steadily over that span as the brain remodeled its information pathways to become more efficient.

Courtesy of Dylan Rae Metcalfe

Growing up, Dylan Rae Metcalfe could do whatever she wanted.  

“My mom let me do all kinds of sideways shit,” she said. “Like, if I wanted to smoke pot or drink or smoke cigarettes or have sex or whatever, my mom allowed it ‘as long as it's happening in the house.’ That was awesome to me.”


Suicide rates in the U.S. are at their highest in 30 years. In 2014, the last year for which there are official government figures, nearly 43,000 Americans killed themselves. That’s nearly four times as many as were shot to death by others.

The rise in suicide comes despite intensive prevention efforts by mental health professionals, citizen-volunteers, people affected by suicide, teachers, religious leaders and others.

Could the key to prevention be identifying people about to make an attempt?

Ashley Ahearn, host of terrestrial, a new national podcast housed at KUOW in Seattle.Ashley Ahearn, host of terrestrial, a new national podcast produced out of KUOW in Seattle.
Photo by Melanie Moore

When I first heard the term eco-anxiety — a chronic fear of environmental doom — I brushed it off. It seemed like something for people who sit on yoga mats and worry about how the world is going to end because we’re not recycling enough.

Young black and Latino men are more likely than any other group to be the victims of violent crime, but American society has devoted too few resources to helping these young men heal after their violent encounters, according to researchers with New York City's Vera Institute of Justice.

Who Will Listen To The Suffering Syrians?

Mar 23, 2017

Dr. Hussam Jefee-Bahloul, a Syrian psychiatrist, writes poetry that reflects his deep longing for a lost homeland.

"Poetry and art is another way to cope," he says, "we are all grieving in our own ways. The country is no longer the one that I left and it still haunts me in my dreams." (Click here to read one of his poems.)

Outside the home of her foster sister Renee Davis, Danielle Bargala breaks down in tears while talking about how Davis' young children are living with different families. Davis, who was pregnant, was shot at her Muckleshoot reservation home last October.
Dan DeLong for KUOW

The young mom texted her boyfriend: “Come and get the girls or call 911. I’m about to shoot myself.”


Last year, gun violence shook communities in Marysville and on Whidbey Island, Washington. Some lawmakers in Olympia said it was the result of inadequate mental health resources.

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