mental health

China is listed as a country with one of the highest rates of suicide, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Mental health services often carry a stigma, though that’s starting to change. The government recently passed the country’s first national mental health law.

Michael Phillips has lived and worked in China since 1985 at the end of the Cultural Revolution. He discussed China’s mental health landscape at the University of Washington’s Kane Hall as part of the graduate school lecture series on October 15.

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

Violence is a “constant disruption” at the state’s two main psychiatric hospitals, according to a new report jointly commissioned by The Department of Social and Health Services and the SEIU Healthcare 1199NW union that represents much of the front-line staff at the hospitals. 

Flickr Photo/Michael J (CC-BY-NC-ND)

Washington state is facing a crisis when it comes to providing beds for psychiatric care. On a per capita basis, according to a 2009 national report, Washington ranks at the very bottom.

When beds are unavailable at psychiatric hospitals and regional mental health providers, hospital emergency rooms are often a last resort. Mental health advocates say this is a huge problem, because in some cases, mentally ill people are housed in emergency rooms for months, without access to sufficient treatment.

Flickr Photo/Michael B

Nationally, Washington state ranks dead last in providing beds for mental health treatment. As a result, people with severe mental illnesses often end up in emergency rooms where they don’t receive proper care. On average, they’re housed in emergency rooms for three days. In some cases, they wait months.

It’s a practice called “psychiatric boarding.” Mental health advocates say it’s dangerous for patients and  hospital staff. Brian Rosenthal is a staff reporter for The Seattle Times. He talked with Ross Reynolds about why psychiatric boarding has become an epidemic in our state.

The (Head) Doctor Is In: Physicals Would Include Mental Health

Oct 3, 2013

The US faces a shrink shortage: An estimated 62 million Americans will become eligible for mental health benefits under the Affordable Care Act, but there aren’t enough psychiatrists to treat them.

What to do?

From The Depressed Cake Shop's Facebook page.

Back in August, a baker named Emma Thomas, opened up a series of pop-up bakeries across London. Unlike most colorful cakes and cookies, all of the baked goods in Emma’s shop were in shades of grey.She called it the “Depressed Cake Shop.” Local bakers and businesses donated delicacies and proceeds from the sales went to charities that supported people struggling with mental illness.

It wasn't long before Emma’s pop-up idea spread across the globe. Bakeries began appearing in Malaysia, Australia, India, San Francisco and now Seattle. On Saturday visitors to Sole Repair Shop will have the chance to buy a variety of dark baked goods. Fifteen local bakers and pastry shops will be donating everything from cake pops to champagne-flavored marshmallows flown in from San Francisco.

Megan Seling, writer for The Stranger and author of the cookbook "Bake It In A Cake," is one of the bakers donating sweets to the shop. She used baking as a distraction and coping mechanism to help her through depression.  Seling said that baking gave her a chance to take the cookies to people and interact with co-workers in a way that was positive and the formulaic process provided a much needed distraction in the dark days of fall and winter.

If you want to indulge in some dark sweets, The Depressed Cake Shop in Seattle will be open Saturday October 5 from 10 a.m. - 4 p.m. For more information on the event visit their Facebook page. All proceeds from the event will be going to support the National Alliance on Mental Illness in the Greater Seattle area.

Flickr Photo/Semilla Luz

It’s Friday — time to talk over the week’s news with Joni Balter of the Seattle Times, Crosscut's Knute Berger and Eli Sanders of The Stranger. 

A shooting at the Navy Yard in DC and a fatal stabbing in Seattle's Pioneer Square again raise questions about public safety and mental health care. Seattle's race for mayor sees a new round of polling and endorsements. Plus, Pope Francis says Catholics need to find "a new balance" on issues like abortion and homosexuality.  What stories were you following this week?

The Navy Yard massacre may renew concerns over the potential dangers of mentally ill people who don't get treatment. That issue is especially hot right now in Seattle, where the mayor has called untreated mental illness an "emergency."

Unstable In Seattle

Seattle's Pioneer Square is an uneasy mix of art galleries and skid road; it's gelato over here, and heroin over there. And then there's mental illness.

One year ago, Ian Stawicki killed four people at Cafe Racer, a popular and eclectic coffee shop and bar in Seattle's University District. Later that day he killed another woman, and then himself. Like other mass shootings without apparent motive, the case galvanized discussion about mental illness and violence.

KUOW's Sara Lerner spoke with Amnon Shoenfeld, director of King County’s Mental Health, Chemical Abuse and Dependency Services Division about why it's so difficult for many families to get help for loved ones who have mental illnesses.

KUOW Photo/Patricia Murphy

Seattle’s Café Racer is closed today in remembrance. 

It's been a year since a gunman shot five people inside the eclectic coffee shop and bar. Drew Keriakedes, Joe Albanese , Kimberly Layfield, and Don Largen were killed. The cafe's cook, Leonard Meuse, was the lone survivor.

After the gunman fled the scene, police say he made his way downtown where he  killed  Gloria Leonidas and stole her car before shooting himself in West Seattle. 

KUOW Photo/Patricia Murphy

During an emergency, first responders are trained to work quickly to save lives. They’re deliberate and methodical.

People in emotional distress after a fire or accident need someone with different training. For them an emergency department may send a chaplain. The Police and Fire Chaplain's Training Academy in Seattle just graduated a new crop of chaplains for emergency departments around the country.

A Pierce County Superior Court judge said Monday that temporarily boarding the mentally ill in hospital emergency rooms without treatment violates state and federal law. County and state attorneys have asked for the ruling to be put on hold while they appeal.

KUOW Photo/Deborah Wang

The Kings Stay In Sacramento
The inevitable was confirmed yesterday in Dallas by NBA commissioner David Stern. In a 22-8 vote, the NBA Board of Governors voted to keep the Sacramento Kings in Sacramento. Investor Chris Hansen said the struggle makes the payoff sweeter and that he hopes the Sonics will return to Seattle eventually. We’ll talk with Ben Adler from Capital Public Radio in Sacramento and Art Thiel in Seattle on how the decision came to be.

Art Of Our City: The Massive Monkees
Earlier this year the hip-hop dance troupe Massive Monkees opened their first official dance studio, called the Beacon.  As part of a Seattle program to invigorate empty storefronts in the city, the Monkees applied for and received a three-month residency in a storefront in the Chinatown-International District.  Over the course of that residency, the Beacon offered classes for students as young as three up to their 50s and beyond. Now Massive Monkees' official residency is over, but they have the opportunity to make the Beacon permanent.  The landlord has agreed to a longer lease with one catch:  They need to raise some money for capital repairs.  To that end, they’ve launched a Kickstarter campaign. We revisit a tour we took to the Beacon in February of this year.

The Book Of Woe
The American Psychiatric Association is currently revising the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, a tool used by clinicians to diagnose patients with mental disorders. According to Gary Greenberg it is more like an “anthology of suffering.” Greenberg is a psychotherapist and author of the new book, “The Book of Woe: The DSM and the Unmaking of Psychiatry.” In his book he explains the history of the DSM and how the current revision of the DSM-5 is, as he argues, the most flawed yet. He says the DSM turns suffering into a commodity, leading to over- and misdiagnosis of mental illness.

National Teacher Of The Year, Vali Nasr, And Being Bipolar

Apr 23, 2013
some guy
Flickr Photo/World Economic Forum

2013 Teacher Of The Year
Jeff Charbonneau, a science teacher from Zillah, Washington, has been selected as 2013 National Teacher of the Year. He’ll share his wisdom and teaching style with us while en route to the White House for his award ceremony.

The Dispensable Nation
President Obama’s foreign policy emphasizes China and Asia instead of the Middle East and Europe. The administration is shifting military resources and diplomatic energy as China expands its global footprint. Former State Department Policy Advisor Vali Nasr says President Obama’s foreign policy is too cautious and a danger to the future peace and security of the planet.

What Is It Like To Be Bipolar? Part 2
What does it feel like to be bipolar? How does the mental illness affect family and relationships? What misunderstandings are held by the general public? Does a person who is bipolar consider themselves “crazy?” Author Janine Crowley Haynes considers these questions in her memoir "My Kind of Crazy: Living in a Bipolar World."

The Weather And Hike Of The Week
Michael Fagin suggests a hike that matches the week’s weather forecast.

Living With Bipolar Disorder

Apr 18, 2013
Mental illness
Flickr Photo/Majicdolphin

What does it feel like to be bipolar? How does mental illness affect family and relationships? What misunderstandings does the general public have about people who are bipolar? Katy Sewall speaks with Janine Crowley Haynes, author of the memoir “My Kind of Crazy: Living in a Bipolar World.”

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