Mental Health: On Our Minds | KERA News

Mental Health: On Our Minds

Credit Allison V. Smith / For KERA News

KERA News' initiative to cover mental health is called "On Our Minds." Reporter Syeda Hasan is leading the effort.

The station began focusing on the issue 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.

The latest On Our Minds series is focused on the people who care for folks with mental health issues. It's called The Caregivers.

KERA's mental health coverage is funded in part by the Donna Wilhelm Family Fund and the Hersh Foundation.

mural of nurse posed like Rosie the Riveter
LM Otero / Associated Press

During the coronavirusa pandemic, the number of people screening themselves for anxiety or depression has skyrocketed. 

E-billboard advising social distancing.
Keren Carrión / KERA News

As a single mother with multiple high-risk jobs, Dallas resident Amy Wynn has known many emotional challenges.


One in five children in America are believed to have a mental health disorder. The reluctance to talk openly about it because of the stigma against such disorders can be the very thing standing in the way of  treatment.


The COVID-19 pandemic and police brutality protests can weigh heavily on anyone's emotions. But who helps therapists and other mental health professionals process their emotions in times like these?

Protesters hold a rally on May 15 against Pennsylvania's coronavirus stay-at-home order at the state Capitol in Harrisburg, Pa.
Associated Press

Emily Brown was stretched thin.

As the director of the Rio Grande County Public Health Department in rural Colorado, she was working 12- and 14-hour days, struggling to respond to the pandemic with only five full-time employees for more than 11,000 residents. Case counts were rising.


Parents usually keep watch on their child’s physical health. But they may not pay as much attention to mental health unless a specific problem has been diagnosed. A Dallas-area expert believes monitoring a child’s mental health is something you have to do each day.

Federal regulators are setting up a new three-digit number to reach a suicide prevention hotline in order to make it easier to seek help and reduce the stigma associated with mental health.
Associated Press

Elizabeth Conlin is thankful she started seeing a therapist before the coronavirus pandemic reached North Texas. This past fall, she began a type of treatment called eye movement desensitization and reprocessing, or EMDR.

Stressed? Depressed? Maybe It's Quarantine Fatigue

May 29, 2020
Susan Walsh / Associated Press

COVID-19 has forced many people inside their homes for weeks — and it's taken a toll.

But as the economy opens back up, social distancing is still expected. And some wonder how much longer isolation will remain a part of daily life. 


From lockdowns to unemployment to reopening, the Meadows Mental Health Policy Institute is taking a deep dive into how the COVID-19 pandemic will affect mental health.

Juan Figueroa (center) and his parents, Juan Figueroa Sr. (left) and Angelina Figueroa (right), pose a photo for on New Year's Eve in 2018 in Dalhart, Texas.
Juan Figueroa

Most nights, after dinner, I make a quick WhatsApp call to my parents in Karachi, Pakistan. We have a 10-hour time difference between us, so we usually catch up while I'm avoiding my post-dinner dishes and my parents are sipping their morning cups of chai. 

An elderly couple walks down a hall in Easton, Pa.
Associated Press

It's been about two and a half years since Tricia Myers' family decided to move her 95-year-old mother into the Cottonwood Creek Healthcare Community in Richardson. Myers said her mother, who has dementia, needed round-the-clock care when her cognitive health began to decline.

AP Photo/Jean-Francois Badias

When Kate Mackley and her family began hearing news of the coronavirus pandemic, they worried for her mother, Karla Mackley, who was 93.

"You know, that worry did play out," Kate Mackley said. "She passed away from COVID, and she passed away actually very quickly."

A man shops in an aisle of mostly empty Walmart shelves near Warrendale, Pa., last month. Concerns over the coronavirus has led to consumers panic buying across the country despite the fact there were no product shortages -- causing an actual shortage.
Associated Press

A new analysis from the University of Texas at Arlington confirmed that people's decision making process changes during times of stress — like in the middle of a pandemic. They're less likely to rely on objective facts or data and more likely to trust an anecdote from a friend.

Pat Marmo, owner of Daniel J. Schaefer Funeral Home, walks through a viewing room set up to respect social distancing, Thursday, April 2, 2020, in the Brooklyn borough of New York.
John Minchillo / Associated Press

Coppell resident Jason Dyke is used to having the tough conversations most people never want to think about. He's the president of Carson's Village, a nonprofit that provides free help to families facing the sudden death of a loved one.

A park bench is cordoned off Wednesday, March 25, 2020, in Houston.
AP Photo/David J. Phillip

In a matter of weeks, the coronavirus pandemic has changed daily life for millions of North Texans. Local and national groups are offering resources to help manage anxiety, stress and uncertainty in this time of transition.

AP Photo/Eric Gay

Like many North Texans, Erin Peavey is spending more time at home these days. She and her family have made changes to their daily routine.

Denton resident Amanda Dolin and her children keep an open dialogue about how they're feeling.
Amanda Dolin

Growing up, Denton resident Amanda Dolin didn't understand why her mother spent days crying and struggling to get out of bed. Dolin wondered if she'd done something wrong, and she tried and failed to cheer her mother up.

"I knew that she was sick, but as a child, I didn't have a name for it," Dolin said.

Dolin's mother was diagnosed with depression, and eventually, she found effective treatment. When Dolin was a teenager, she began seeing a psychiatrist. That's when it clicked that she wasn't to blame for her mother's sadness.

Patrick Parker doing pushups
Syeda Hasan / KERA News

A retired army veteran is traveling the country, completing thousands of pushups to raise awareness of bullying and mental illness among children. 

Dr. Philip Huang knows North Texans are worried about the potential spread of COVID-19, the respiratory illness caused by the novel coronavirus.

Courtney Wakefield

Parents who've spent time in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) carry anxiety with them even after their baby is released.

The NICU's constant barrage of doctors and beeping monitors is traumatic — and that trauma lingers.

woman holding stop deportation sign
Brynn Anderson / Associated Press

A new study found that having a relationship with a migrant who is deported or detained can put Latino Americans at a greater risk for hazardous drinking and drug use.

The Stomp the Stigma team speaks about their mental health initiative at an event for the North Texas chapter of the National Alliance on Mental Illness.
Courtesy of Stomp the Stigma

On a Monday morning, 11th graders Kedar Kashyap and Marjan Tukdi left Centennial High School in Frisco to spend the day at Lawler Middle School across the street, teaching younger students about mental health.

 roundtable with the state's Domestic Terrorism Task Force
Office Of The Governor

The shooting at a church in White Settlement nearly two weeks ago is just one of many incidents of public gun violence Americans have faced in recent years. 

Close up picture of elderly hands with young caretaker's hands

The KERA series On Our Minds: The Caregivers  has been spotlighting North Texans navigating the challenges of caregiving. One of the toughest trials for caregivers can be processing the mental and emotional loss of a loved one who is still living. 

Photo by Allison V. Smith / For KERA News

In the KERA series On Our Minds: The Caregivers we met North Texans navigating the legal and personal challenges of caregiving. 

Debbie Spruell
Allison V. Smith / For KERA News

When a child is diagnosed with a mental illness, parents can play a crucial role in their treatment, but what happens when those children become adults?

Ashley Williams
Allison V. Smith / For KERA News

Teachers and school counselors are often the first to notice when a student is struggling. Again and again, educators find themselves going beyond their assigned duties to care for children's mental and emotional needs. 

Tech Guerrero, his husband and his mother.
Allison V. Smith / For KERA News

Living with a mental illness can be daunting. Caring for someone on that journey comes with its own unique challenges. 


Texas Health and Human Services is getting a financial boost from the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline aimed to help more Texans get the mental health help they need.


Having a strained relationship with a family member may be tougher on your mental health than a troubled romantic relationship, according to a new study in the Journal of Family Psychology.