mental health | KUOW News and Information

mental health

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.

Confessions Of A Teenage Tumblr Therapist

Jul 31, 2013
KUOW Photo/Jenny Asarnow

A study conducted since the beginning of time reveals that 100 percent of people are worried about something.

Today, Srikar Penumaka and Madeline Ewbank conquer fear and anxiety. First, we hear from fellow RadioActivian Isaac Noren in his poem "Growing Up Fast." Next, ex-blogger Maddie LeClair shares the story of her time as a teen Tumblr therapist. Then you’ll hear about the irrational fears of our hosts as well as the good people of Pike Place Market, including the secret horrors of saunas and bubble tea.

On a more serious note, some recent studies show that one in five teens struggles with clinical depression. If you grapple with depression, or anything else really, and aren’t prepared to tell the people in your life about it, there are others out there ready to listen.

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.”

Madigan Army Medical Center PA

An investigation into improper leadership involvement in diagnoses of post-traumatic stress disorder at Madigan Army Medical Center has cleared Hospital Commander Col. Dallas Homas of any wrongdoing.

Desk school education
Flickr Photo/alamosbasement (CC-BY-NC-ND)

Fewer teens are smoking and drinking alcohol. That’s one of the bright spots from a recent survey of youth in Washington state. But the results also show that a large number of them are struggling with mental health issues.

Seattle police patrol cars.
Flickr Photo/Brittney Bollay

Tuesday, a federal judge approved a plan to reform Seattle's Police Department. This comes a day after the Seattle Police Officers Guild and Seattle Police Management Association filed a court challenge to the plan, raising concerns about the collective bargaining rights of police officers. We'll talk with independent monitor Merrick Bobb and senior police expert Joe Brann about the details of the reform plan.

The Army has more than doubled its number of military and civilian behavioral health workers in the past five years, however, a newly released report that examines how the Army evaluates soldiers for mental health issues finds that the system is riddled with problems. 

KUOW Photo/John Ryan

The Tea Party has become a fixture in American politics. But the Sanka Party? Not so much. Other than an interest in hot beverages, the two activist groups have little in common. The Sanka Party got started last summer near Tacoma, Wash., in the unlikeliest of places: inside the walls of the state’s largest psychiatric institution.

The Horrors Of Hoarding

Mar 1, 2013
Flickr Photo/Robert Francis

With the latest version of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) coming out in May, hoarding is set to become an officially recognized mental disorder. To learn more about hoarding, Ross Reynolds talks to Karen Kent, clinical supervisor of behavioral health services at Evergreen Health.

Seattle police have released information on the fatal shooting Tuesday evening of a 21-year-old man in Seattle’s Greenwood neighborhood.

House Bill Would Regulate Conversion Therapy

Feb 21, 2013
Marko Liias
AP Photo/Elaine Thompson

A new House bill proposed by State Representative Marko Liias would establish a panel to investigate the effects of sexual orientation conversion therapy -- also known as 'straight camp' -- for minors in Washington state. Liias is one of several openly gay legislators in Washington, and he said in a press release that conversion therapy has “no basis in science or medicine, and it is vital that we bring together the proper health experts to better understand the impacts.”

KUOW Photo/Ruby de Luna

Recent shooting tragedies around the country have raised questions about our mental health system. One of those questions is: Where do you go when someone in your family has mental illness? This is a story of one Seattle family’s journey for help and the lessons learned along the way.

Cigarette tobacco smoke
Flickr photo/Ta Duc (Cc-BY-NC-ND)

A recent study from the Centers For Disease Control has found that nearly one-third of mentally ill adults are smokers. In fact, they’re 70 percent more likely to smoke than adults without mental illness. The relationship between cigarettes and mental hospitals is a complicated one. Historically, smoking was common in mental hospitals. It was even used as an incentive for patients at times. Now, more and more treatment facilities are becoming smoke-free. What does this mean for patients who rely on the habit for comfort? Pam Belluck has been writing about these issues. She covers health and science for The New York Times.

Photo courtesy US Marine Corp

Army Secretary John McHugh will be at Joint Base Lewis-McChord on Monday. He’ll be briefing reporters on the results of an Army-wide review of soldier behavioral health evaluations for post-traumatic stress disorder. The comprehensive review was the result of a smaller investigation that began after a forensic psychiatry team at Madigan Army Medical Center in Lakewood was found to have reversed some soldiers' PTSD diagnoses.

Episode 36: RadioActive Is In A Relationship With Facebook

Jan 31, 2013
A picture of Molly Freed's Facebook timeline
Molly Freed

In RadioActive's first podcast of 2013, hosts Antonia Dorn and Ann Kane bring us a story from producer Molly Freed who talks about how she learned to have a healthy relationship with her Facebook page. Then we ask the question: Why do you use Facebook?

You'll have to listen to find out what the slang of the month is. Hint: Nicki Minaj.

Mental illness
Flickr Photo/Majicdolphin

Women around the world are 2 to 6 times more likely than men to suffer from depression. Today Ross talks to author Dana Jack about her new book “Silencing the Self Across Cultures,” where she explores the reasons for the troubling sadness and silence of women across the globe.

Deal Is Near To Bring NBA's Kings To Seattle

Jan 22, 2013
AP Photo/Elaine Thompson


The return of NBA basketball to Seattle appears closer than ever. Investor Chris Hansen announced on Monday that he's reached an agreement with the Maloof family to buy a controlling interest in the Sacramento Kings. The deal still needs formal approval from the NBA’s owners. Meanwhile, Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson is hopeful he can keep the team in town. How do you put a number on a pro basketball franchise? We talk with Smith College economist Andrew Zimbalist.

Harborview Hospital, Seattle, 2002
Flickr Photo/Seattle Municipal Archives (CC BY 2.0)/http://bit.ly/1Ky8e6j

King County is facing a major problem. It doesn’t have enough beds for mentally ill people going through the court system. The county has nowhere to send them, and some are being released without treatment.

"The Wisdom Of Psychopaths" With Kevin Dutton

Jan 17, 2013
Wisdom of Psychopaths
Courtesy Scientific American/Farrar, Straus and Giroux

"Psychopath" is a weighted, sometimes terrifying word. But psychologist Kevin Dutton makes the argument that not all psychopaths are violent. In fact, some of their qualities -- fearlessness, confidence, charisma -- set them up for success in today's society. Dutton spoke at Seattle's Town Hall on Oct. 30, 2012.

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