Mental Health | KERA News

Mental Health

In 2013, shortly after the mass shooting in Newtown, Connecticut, KERA launched a project called Erasing the Stigma with The Dallas Morning News and the Dallas Mayor's office. It was the beginning of a years-long focus on mental health, which continues today.

KERA's mental health coverage is funded in part by the Hersh Foundation.

Rebekah Morr / KERA News Special Contributor

Doug Delaney calls his North Dallas home a funky McMansion, with a sprawling garden of cacti, trees and wild grasses covering the entire backyard.

Earlier this year, Ft. Worth, Texas singer-songwriter Dan Johnson released a new album of songs, paired with a collection of fictional stories co-written with novelist Travis Erwin. The songs and stories include an imaginative cast of characters, from a grievously wounded veteran seeking salvation in drugs and alcohol, to an aging gun smuggler taking one last shot at love.

From Texas Standard:

Alzheimer's disease is the most common type of dementia, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says as many as 5 million Americans were living with it in 2014. Scientists have conducted a lot of research on the disease, but there's still no simple explanation for it. But James Truchard wants to change that.

Truchard is a former president and CEO of the multibillion-dollar Austin-based tech company National Instruments. He recently gave $5 million to the University of Texas at San Antonio College of Sciences for the new Oskar Fischer Project; the money will be divvied among the scientists who can sufficiently explain what causes Alzheimer's.

Joyce Marshall / Fort Worth Star-Telegram

Tarrant County voters will soon decide whether to approve the largest bond package in the county’s history.

The $800 million bond proposal is for the county’s public hospital system, known as the John Peter Smith Health network.

Courtesy of UT Dallas

Post-traumatic stress disorder — or PTSD — is the most common mental health disorder among veterans of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. It can also affect anyone who experiences a major life-altering event like a serious accident, physical abuse or sexual assault.

The University of Texas at Dallas has received a $7.4 million grant to study this difficult-to-treat disorder — and test out some potentially life-changing treatments.

State lawmakers are studying how housing instability, homelessness and mental illness are interconnected and what changes might reduce the state’s overall homeless population.


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Various medications and therapies can provide relief, but the FDA has approved the first in a new class of drug aimed at heading off migraine headaches before they start. 

Rachel Zein for The Texas Tribune

A special Texas Senate committee devoted to fighting school violence has recommended improving mental health resources for students and increasing funding for a program that arms some members of school staff, but shied away from any measures aiming to limit access to guns.

David J. Phillip / AP

Police officers have long had a presence in public schools. But since the deadly school shootings in Santa Fe and Parkland, Florida, more Texas school children have found themselves facing police for actions the authors of a new study view as kids just being kids.

LM Otero / AP

To help combat the mental stress that police officers face on the job, the Center for BrainHealth at the University of Texas at Dallas has developed a program to help police in Dallas make better decisions.

Twelve percent of teenagers in Texas said they attempted suicide in 2017, according to a report released last month by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. That's higher than the national average of 7 percent.

Seventeen percent of ninth- through 12th-graders surveyed in Texas said they seriously considered suicide last year, and 14 percent said they had made a plan for how to do it.

Stella M. Chavez / KERA News

Fourth- and fifth-graders are gathered inside a cool, dark conference room. They take turns wearing headsets and face a computer screen. Calming, electronic music plays in the background.

The objective: to paint. But this isn’t exactly the kind of painting you’d imagine.

Stephanie Kuo / KERA News

In 2015, Parkland Hospital in Dallas became the first major hospital system in the country to screen each and every one of its patients for suicide risk — at each and every visit. In March, the hospital extended those screenings to children as young as 10.

The main focus of a roundtable discussion at the Capitol on Wednesday was finding ways for schools to identify violent students before they commit mass murder.

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Exercise can play an important role in maintaining physical health. But it also can contribute to your mental well-being. 

UT Southwestern

We're learning more about depression and its impact on our daily lives, but there's still a long way to go when it comes to understanding how it affects teenagers, specifically.

Dr. Madhukar Trivedi with UT Southwestern Medical Center is leading a program in North Texas schools as part of long-term research to identify, study and treat teenagers with or at risk for depression.

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Physical fitness, diet and mental stimulation all contribute to good brain health. But you also need water — and lots of it.

On average, the human body contains about 60 percent water. Nearly all bodily systems depend on it, including the brain.

Kerstin Taylor’s home is evidence of a life rebuilt. It’s filled with her grandmother’s paintings, Christian crosses, photos and stuffed animals.

“They all have names,” she said in reference to those stuffed animals. “That has to do with, truly, the family I never had – my broken family.”

Jaromir Chalabala / Shutterstock.com

Studies have shown a high rate of suicide in the veterinary community. One of every six veterinary school grads in a 2014 CDC survey said they’d considered taking their own life.

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A recent study found 70 percent of Americans binge-watch TV shows, sitting through an average of five episodes per marathon session. But that trend raises some health concerns.

Medical professionals are keeping an eye out for people having difficulty dealing with the trauma of losing their homes during Hurricane Harvey.

Recovery coaches and peer mentors – known in Alcoholics Anonymous as "sponsors" — have for decades helped people who are addicted to alcohol or drugs. Now, peer support for people who have serious mental illness is becoming more common, too. Particularly in places like Texas, where mental health professionals are in short supply, paid peer counselors are filling a gap.

It was about a year ago that Ornella Mouketou walked into the emergency room at the George Washington University Hospital in Washington, D.C., and told them she wanted to end her life.

She was in her early 20s, unemployed and depressed.

"I was just walking around endlessly. I was walking around parks, and I was just crying all the time," she says. "It was like an empty black hole."

Bill Zeeble / KERA News

Telemedicine, which connects doctors and patients virtually, has made a big difference in North Texas schools for students with physical issues.

This fall, the same technology will be available to connect students and their behavioral therapists in a pilot program from Children's Health.

Gerry Realin says he wishes he had never become a police officer.

Realin, 37, was part of the hazmat team that responded to the Pulse Nightclub shooting in Orlando on June 12, 2016. He spent four hours taking care of the dead inside the club. Now, triggers like a Sharpie marker or a white sheet yank him out of the moment and back to the nightclub, where they used Sharpies to list the victims that night and white sheets to cover them.

Lauren Silverman / KERA

Maybe you’ve heard of sponsors or recovery coaches to help with drug and alcohol addiction. How about for mental health? In the last decade, peer support for people with serious mental illness has hit mainstream.

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Nine in 10 Texans think it's harder to talk about a mental health condition than a physical health issue. The one place where it’s easier to talk about mental rather than physical health seems to be in the Texas Legislature, where a handful of bills are speeding through the House with near unanimous support. Among them is a bill to help enforce coverage of mental health benefits.

 

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On any given day, about 5,000 inmates are held in Dallas County’s Lew Sterrett Justice Center. A third of them have some kind of mental illness.

Texas House Approves Bill Focused On Mental Health Insurance Benefits

Apr 4, 2017
Marjorie Kamys Cotera / The Texas Tribune

Texas House members endorsed a bill Tuesday that would prevent health insurance companies from offering mental health benefits differently from medical benefits and offer more help for consumers who believe their insurance is wrongly denying them coverage.

By a 57-43 margin, the Republican-led Senate voted Wednesday to repeal an Obama-era regulation designed to block certain mentally ill people from purchasing firearms. The vote, which approves a House resolution passed earlier this month, now sends the measure to the White House for President Trump's signature.

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