mental health | KUOW News and Information

mental health

Mental health advocates in Washington are assailing a proposal to allow psychiatric boarding in limited cases.

A listener emailed us this picture of a recovering Blitz on Monday after the Seahawks lost in Super Bowl XLIX.
Courtesy of Michael James Hawk

Ross Reynolds talks to Dr. Kirk Honda, family therapist and faculty member at Antioch University, about how to manage the feeling of loss and grief after the Seattle Seahawks lost to the New England Patriots in Super Bowl XLIX.

A poster at Rainier Beach High School's teen clinic lets students know they have a safe place to talk.
KUOW Photo/Ruby de Luna

It used to be that students went to their school clinic to have their sore throat checked or get a vaccine. But many kids today have needs that go beyond physical health, whether it’s dealing with exposure to violence or having suicidal thoughts.

In response, a growing number of schools have started offering mental health services.

Washington State Capitol
Flickr Photo/Alan Cordova (CC-BY-NC-ND)

Marcie Sillman talks with KUOW's Olympia correspondent Austin Jenkins about one of the legislature's priorities this session: mental health. 

The father of a Spokane woman shot to death by her husband in a murder-suicide is pushing for expanded mental health laws in Washington.

Courtesy of Deepali

Living with mental illness is never easy, no matter where in the world you live. But it can be particularly hard in India, and even more so if you’re a woman.

For Deepali, a 46-year-old yoga teacher in New Delhi, the problems began about 10 or 12 years ago. “There were financial troubles, there were definite marital troubles,” she says.

Mural near the Fisherman's Cove Marina and Lummi Island Ferry on Lummi Nation.
KUOW Photo/Jeff Emtman

After a visit to the Standing Rock Sioux Tribal Nation in North Dakota, President Barack Obama announced an initiative to help Native American youth.

Obama's proposal aims to provide culturally appropriate education at tribal schools, access to mental health providers and peer counseling and better preparation for college and careers. KUOW’s Jeannie Yandel spoke with Gyasi Ross, a writer, attorney and member of the Blackfeet tribe. He lives on the Suquamish reservation north of Seattle.

“You can see it in Obama's face, you can hear it in the words that he speaks -- he actually has a passion for trying to do something proactively for Native people," Ross said. "I knew that it was coming from a good place.”

The day after Christmas is the deadline for the state of Washington to end a practice known as psychiatric “boarding.”

My Dad's Descent Into Terrifying Madness

Dec 19, 2014
Lisa Southworth and her dad
Courtesy of Lisa Southworth

Nando Ferahaha was a real man.

Nando was 48 and newly slim, with a shaved head and a septum pierced with a ring, like a bull. He said he was an amateur body builder.

Nando said he was an active member in our metropolitan area’s search and rescue team. He had $10,000 of new REI gear to prove it.

Frank Chopp, Washington Speaker of the House, in 2006.
Flickr Photo/The Children's Alliance (CC-BY-NC-ND)

State Speaker of the House Frank Chopp’s path to politics began in Bremerton, Washington, in a surplus housing unit from the Navy Yard. He started as an activist and hasn’t abandoned that point of view.

“I consider myself still to be a community organizer, I just happen to be speaker of the House,” he said.

Meager beginnings made him passionate about affordable housing, and helping his sister cope with bipolar disorder turned his attention to mental health care.

Jeannie Yandel talks with Natalie Snyder, who was wounded in the 1996 shooting at Frontier Middle School in Moses Lake, Wash., about the long process of healing after a trauma.

Reality, if you think about it, is a kind of social contract. You and I might be strangers, but we agree, at least at a really basic level, on what is real.

So when you talk to someone who isn't signed onto that same contract, it's kind of unsettling.

"What do the gloves do?"

I'm asking a guy named George about the thin plastic hospital gloves he was wearing when we met. "It's so the cosmic dust doesn't get on my hands," is his reply.

Litesprite

If you’re feeling depressed or stressed out, and therapy seems overwhelming, consider spending time with a fox.

Courtesy Joe Guppy/Photo by Ernie Sapiro

  Many Seattle-area residents remember Joe Guppy from his days as a performer. For years he was an improvisational artist and actor, and one of the minds behind the long-running television program "Almost Live." 

Depression is common in teenagers, with 11 percent being diagnosed by age 18, and many more having depressive symptoms. Social and academic stress can trigger depression, and rates of depression tend to peak in adolescence around the age of 16.

It doesn't help that stressed-out teens often fall into hopelessness, says David Yeager, an assistant professor of psychology at the University of Texas at Austin. "When kids have hard things happen to them, they think it'll be like that way into the future."

The state of Washington now has until the end of the year to stop “boarding” mental health patients in non-psychiatric hospital beds.

The state of Washington will not have to start discharging severely mentally ill patients starting this week. The Supreme Court Monday put a hold on a recent ruling that says it’s illegal for the state to “board” psychiatric patients in non-psychiatric hospital beds.

The Washington Supreme Court recently ruled it’s illegal for the state to “board” mental health patients in emergency rooms and regular hospital beds.

It's almost 4 p.m., and police officers Ernest Stevens and Ned Bandoske have been driving around town in their unmarked black SUV since early this morning. The officers are part of San Antonio's mental health squad — a six-person unit that answers the frequent emergency calls where mental illness may be an issue.

The officers spot a call for help on their laptop from a group home across town.

"A male individual put a blanket on fire this morning," Stevens reads from the blotter. "He's arguing ... and is a danger to himself and others. He's off his medications."

The state of Washington is scrambling to find beds for an estimated 200 mental health patients by August 27. That's when the state must comply with a Washington Supreme Court ruling that said detaining psychiatric patients in emergency room beds is unlawful.

Marcie Sillman talks with Sue Eastgard about suicide prevention and how that differs between gender. Eastgard is the director of training for Forefront, a University of Washington suicide prevention organization.

The Washington Supreme Court unanimously ruled Thursday that the practice of "boarding" mental health patients in hospital emergency rooms is unlawful.

Ross Reynolds talks with Snohomish County public defender Cassie Trueblood about a civil rights lawsuit filed in federal court against Western State Hospital.

Ross Reynolds talks with David Johnson, CEO of Navos Mental Health Solutions, about the connections between mental illness and unemployment. A recent report found that in Washington state, 86.9 percent of people who make contact with the public health system are unemployed. That's higher than the national average of 80 percent.

In 2008, Cara Anna was working as a foreign correspondent in China and feeling overwhelmed by isolation, hostility from local authorities and a gnawing feeling that she was a failure. Her anguish led her to try suicide.

After waking up alive, she kept her attempt a secret. Asking for help seemed shameful, and she feared for her job if her employer found out. But after a second suicide attempt 15 months later, Anna realized that to recover she needed to stop feeling ashamed.

Suicide-Proofing The Golden Gate Bridge

Jul 7, 2014

Suicide prevention activists have long called for a way to prevent people from jumping off the Golden Gate Bridge, but officials have resisted, citing cost and design concerns.

Last week, the board that oversees the Golden Gate Bridge voted to approve $76 million to install steel suicide “nets” that would hang largely out of sight 20 feet under the walkways of the iconic bridge in San Francisco Bay.

Since the bridge opened in 1937, there have at least 1,600 suicides of people jumping off it. Last year, there was a suicide or an attempt almost every other day.

Lauren Kay has never met her therapist in person. The 24-year-old entrepreneur found it difficult to take time off work for appointments.

So she started seeing a psychotherapist online.

"It's definitely been different," she says. Kay, who lives in New York, found her counselor through an online therapy service called Pretty Padded Room. When it's time for an appointment, all she has to do is log in to the website, click a link and start video chatting.

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

Parking mentally ill patients in the emergency room while waiting for treatment is a common practice, but  also controversial. Psychiatric boarding, as it's known, used to be the exception. But in the last six years, the number of patients who've experienced it has nearly tripled.  Now the state Supreme Court is considering whether boarding is constitutional.

Marcie Sillman talks to Dr. Leslie Butterfield about the challenges new parents face and how to spot the signs of postpartum depression and anxiety.

One in five new moms and one in ten new dads have some form of postpartum depression. Postpartum Support International and Postpartum Support International of Washington State are resources for information about postpartum depression, as well as local support groups and counselors. You can also call the toll-free line anytime to talk to a volunteer: 1.888.404.7763.

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