mental health

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.

Expanded coverage for young adults under the Affordable Care Act substantially raised inpatient hospital visits related to mental health, finds a study conducted by researchers at Indiana and Purdue universities.

That looks like good news: Better access to care for a population with higher-than-average levels of mental illness that too often endangers them and people nearby.

Marcie Sillman talks with Sandi Ando about reforming Washington state's mental health system. Ando is public policy chair for Washington's chapter of the National Alliance On Mental Illness.

Pages