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mental health

Washington is unlikely to meet a January deadline to provide jail inmates with court-ordered mental health services within seven days.

A staffing shortage at Western State Hospital has created a crisis situation. Federal inspectors this week determined that patients and staff face immediate risk for harm.

Each year, nearly three times as many Americans die from suicide as from homicide. More Americans kill themselves than die from breast cancer.

As Dr.Thomas Insel, longtime head of the National Institute of Mental Health, prepared to step down from his job in October, he cited the lack of progress in reducing the number of suicides as his biggest disappointment. While the homicide rate in the U.S. has dropped 50 percent since the early 1990s, the suicide rate is higher than it was a decade ago.

The definition of postpartum depression is broad. The symptoms can range anywhere from feeling exhausted and disconnected from your baby to paranoia that someone else might hurt your child or, even worse, that you yourself might do your baby harm.

While this wide-ranging spectrum makes it hard to diagnose, the CDC says between 8 percent and 19 percent of women suffer from postpartum depression.

Note: This story is an update to a story first reported in 2012 in collaboration with the Seattle Times.

Between 2008 and 2011, more than 20,000 soldiers and Marines were given “other than honorable” discharges from the military. Now, one soldier from Salem, Oregon, has learned his discharge will be upgraded.

Western State Hospital in Lakewood, Washington, pictured Oct. 2015.
AP Photo/Ted S. Warren

David Hyde talks with Associated Press reporter Martha Bellisle about her investigation into safety conditions at Western State Hospital. This year, the federal government has threatened funding cuts on three separate occasions.

Mentally disabled sex offenders housed on Washington’s McNeil Island aren’t getting the treatment they deserve. And, in some cases, they’re being held in isolation.

Children of anxious parents are more at risk of developing an anxiety disorder. But there's welcome news for those anxious parents: that trajectory toward anxiety isn't set in stone.

Therapy and a change in parenting styles might be able to prevent kids from developing anxiety disorders, according to research published in The American Journal of Psychiatry Friday.

When Deciding To Live Means Avoiding Guns

Sep 24, 2015

When you're managing a mental health issue, home's not always a safe place.

I recently talked with a 23-year-old in Oakland, Calif., who says he's worried about an upcoming visit to his aunt's home on the East Coast. He's afraid of what he might do to himself there.

"I know that in my aunt's house there are three guns in the basement," says the young man, who asked that NPR not use his name.

Brian Phillips spent 71 days in solitary confinement this summer. He was locked up in the Thurston County Jail near Olympia, Washington, after he went off his psychiatric medication and had several run-ins with police.

The incident command for Washington’s biggest wildfire requested a mental health team to help people in Okanogan County. A national nonprofit called Green Cross has responded to the call.

Masooma, pictured with her children, recounted the events of pre-dawn March 11, 2012 when she says a U.S. soldier rampaged through two villages killing 16 people, mostly children. Staff Sergeant Robert Bales pleaded guilty to the massacre.
AP Photo/Anja Niedringhaus

Jeannie Yandel speaks with Adam Ashton, military reporter for the Tacoma News Tribune, about Sgt. Robert Bales and how the military evaluates the mental health of their troops. A new report from the military shows Bales exhibited warning signs of potentially violent behavior before killing 16 Afghan civilians in 2012.

The state of Washington is on a hiring spree for forensic psychologists. They’re needed to help address a backlog of mentally ill jail inmates whose competency to stand trial is in question.

The case of Sandra Bland has raised anger and suspicions nationwide since she was found dead in a jail cell in Hempstead, Texas, two weeks ago. Bland's family and supporters have rejected the medical examiner's finding of suicide, and the criminal district attorney for Waller County, Texas, says he's recruited two outside lawyers to assist in the investigation of her death. The local investigation has been reviewed by the FBI, and local prosecutors have pledged to bring the case to a grand jury next month.

The state of Washington is under a federal court order to address the issue of mentally ill inmates languishing in jail. But the problem has actually gotten worse, not better.

People With Depression: You Are Not Alone

Jul 23, 2015
Hosts Rogelia Sanchez and Lola Garcia.
KUOW Photo/Lola Garcia

Welcome to RadioActive's second podcast of summer 2015. We are talking about depression. We got some advice from a psychiatrist at the University of Washington and recorded personal experiences with depression that we'd like to share with you.

Idaho ranks consistently among the top states with the highest rates of youth suicide in the nation.

The court battle over wait times for Washington jail inmates to get mental health competency exams is not over.

Washington Governor Jay Inslee has signed several new mental health laws in recent days. The question is whether they will be funded.

Marcie Sillman talks with KUOW Olympia correspondent Austin Jenkins about new mental health policies and how the state will pay for them. 

Mentally ill inmates continue to languish in Washington jails despite a recent federal judge’s ruling that the practice is unconstitutional.

It’s been nearly two years since Joel Reuter fired a pistol from his condo balcony and was shot to death by Seattle police. Thursday, Governor Jay Inslee signed “Joel’s Law.”

On a sunny spring day at MIT in Cambridge, Mass., students line up at a table grabbing ice cream sundaes, milk and cookies, and, if they're interested, a hug from MIT parents including Sonal Patel.

"Yes!" Patel says, "giving away ice cream and now hugs."

"Oh, I want a hug," a student says, "that will be good."

The event — billed as "Stress Less Day" — is sponsored by the student mental health awareness group Active Minds. Volunteers are handing out fliers listing mental health facts and campus resources.

Sophomore Matt Ossa gets his ice cream and rushes on.

Are you a pen-clicker? A hair-twirler? A knee-bouncer? Did you ever get in trouble for fidgeting in class? Don't hang your head in shame. All that movement may be helping you think.

Shannon Stapleton/Reuters

We might think we have a basic understanding of post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD: Soldiers in battle see things they'd like to forget, but years later combat memories come back to haunt them. That's the received wisdom.

But perhaps we have it all wrong. Maybe it's not the reminders of the fighting that cause post-traumatic stress so much as the void ex-combatants face when they leave the community of soldiers behind.

In the past academic year, four students at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology have taken their own lives.

And in the days that followed two of her freshmen classmates' deaths by suicide, 18-year-old Isabel "Izzy" Lloyd noticed something.

"Things just sort of stopped for a week or two and there were people posting on Facebook and sending out emails and Twitter and Instagram and people were saying, 'I care, you can come see me,' " she says.

Katherine Switz, founder of the Stability Network.
Courtesy of Katherine Switz

When a GermanWings passenger jet slammed into the French Alps last month, killing all aboard, attention focused on the co-pilot’s treatment for severe depression – and how he hid his illness.

An estimated 58 percent of Americans don’t want people with mental health issues in their workplace, even though a vast majority of people with such illnesses can work just fine.

The crash of Germanwings Flight 9525 into the French Alps earlier this week appears to have been a deliberate act carried out by a co-pilot.

It is too soon to put the label "suicide" on the co-pilot's actions. Not enough is known yet about his state of mind or what his motivation might have been. But as investigations continue, the incident raises questions about whether better mental health screening can prevent a person with suicidal tendencies from taking charge in the cockpit in the first place.

Mentally ill inmates in Washington state often must wait weeks, or even months in jail for evaluations to see if they’re competent to stand trial.

Participants at the 5th annual Compassion Research Day at Facebook's headquarters in Menlo Park, California. Facebook unveiled new tools on Feb. 25 to help prevent suicide.
Courtesy of Forefront/Katie Simmons

Marcie Sillman talks with Jennifer Stuber, director of Forefront, a suicide prevention organization at the University of Washington, about their partnership with Facebook.

Also, we hear from Stephen Miller, Forefront's operation's manager, about his own experience with Facebook and suicide. 

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