Mental Health | KERA News

Mental Health

KERA News is building an initiative to cover mental health, and 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.

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

Vanessa Fernandes

Vanessa Fernandes and her son Armande Patel are about to talk for the first time about what their family went through in 2015. They sit at a conference room table, tucked away on the first floor of a shopping mall where Fernandes is an executive at a major retail store. Her son is in college, studying finance. 

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The way we navigate the world has transformed with the advent of GPS devices, but some researchers say overreliance on that technology can affect our natural wayfinding abilities. 

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The World Health Organization has redefined burnout as a syndrome tied to chronic workplace stress that "has not been successfully managed."

Turtle Creek Chorale / Facebook

Inside the Moody Performance Hall in downtown Dallas, crews are working to pull the set together before the first performance of a new concert, "You Are Light."

Amanda Bacon's eating disorder was growing worse. She had lost 60% of her body weight and was consuming only about 100 calories a day.

But that wasn't sick enough for her Medicaid managed-care company to cover an inpatient treatment program. She was told in 2017 that unless she weighed 10 pounds less — which would have put her at 5-foot-7 and 90 pounds — or was admitted to a psychiatric unit, she wasn't eligible for coverage.

"I remember thinking, 'I'm going to die,' " the Las Cruces, N.M., resident recalls.

Associated Press

Dr. Shaili Jain is a psychiatrist and post-traumatic stress disorder specialist at one of America’s top hospitals run by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. She joins Krys Boyd, host of KERA's Think, to talk about how the condition affects many aspects of sufferers’ lives – and about cutting-edge research that’s providing hope.

No One Knows Why Rural East Texas Faces High Suicide Rates. And Resources To Help Are Scarce.

May 29, 2019
Christopher Collins / Texas Observer via The Texas Tribune

 

Updated 7:55 p.m. ET

The World Health Organization is bringing attention to the problem of work-related stress. The group announced this week that it is updating its definition of burnout in the new version of its handbook of diseases, the International Classification of Diseases — ICD-11 — which will go into effect in January 2022

As colleges and universities across the country report an explosion of mental health problems, a new book argues that college life may be more stressful than ever. Dr. Anthony Rostain, co-author of The Stressed Years of Their Lives, notes that today's college students are experiencing an "inordinate amount of anxiety" — much of it centered on "surviving college and doing well."

A bill that aims to prevent violence in Texas schools – one of Greg Abbott's legislative priorities – is on the governor's desk.

Senate Bill 11 would require schools to teach lessons on mental health, substance abuse, coping mechanisms and suicide prevention. The bill is a compromise of House and Senate efforts to keep schools safe after 10 people were killed in a shooting last year at Santa Fe High School.  

Updated at 7:13 p.m. ET

The U.S. Army issued a tweet ahead of Memorial Day weekend with a question for service members and veterans: "How has serving impacted you?"

Among the thousands of responses: harrowing tales of trauma, depression and sexual assault.

In a thread, an Army tweet that preceded the question featured a video by Pfc. Nathan Spencer, a scout with the Army's First Infantry Division.

Under the Texas Capitol dome in the Rotunda.
State of Texas

State lawmakers have breathed new life into a major mental health bill with bipartisan support, after it was temporarily struck down by a North Texas Tea Party leader.

Lauren Walls had lived with panic attacks, nightmares and flashbacks for years. The 26-year-old San Antonio teacher sought help from a variety of mental health professionals — including spending five years and at least $20,000 with one therapist who used a Christian-faith-based approach, viewing her condition as part of a spiritual weakness that could be conquered — but her symptoms worsened. She hit a breaking point two years ago, when she contemplated suicide.

The number of people dying by suicide in the U.S. has been rising, and a new study shows that the suicide rate among girls ages 10 to 14 has been increasing faster than it has for boys of the same age.

Boys are still more likely to take their own lives. But the study published Friday in JAMA Network Open finds that girls are steadily narrowing that gap.

Jason Dyke and his "bus family" get together for Texas A&M football games every year. Dyke says the encouragement and practical help they gave him after the death of one of his sons were inspirations for Carson's VIllage.
Courtesy Jason Dyke

Jason Dyke is a proud Aggie. Visit his home in Coppell, and you're greeted with a maroon Texas A&M University flag outside the front door. About 15 years ago, he and some of his college friends pooled their money and bought an old Texas A&M school bus. Dyke calls them his "bus family." 

"There's a sense of hopelessness and it's not a coincidence that anhedonia is strongly linked to suicidal behaviors and suicide in and of itself because at its very severest form the person in essence is somewhat giving up."
Alicia Meuret, SMU / Shutterstock

People who find themselves unable to experience delight or satisfaction may be suffering from something called anhedonia, a symptom of depression that strips people of their ability to feel joy.

Professors at Southern Methodist University are part of a five-year study aiming to develop a more effective treatment.

Child psychologist Robin Gurwitch says first and foremost, caregivers should reach out to their kids and talk about what has happened.
Benjamin Manley / Unsplash

In the wake of the shooting at the K-12 STEM School in Highlands Ranch, Colorado, parents all over the country are struggling with difficult conversations about safety at school. One student was killed and eight were injured. Hundreds more lived through the terrifying experience of a shooting at their school.

A hallway at the 24-hour Courtney's SAFE Place clinic at Turning Point rape crisis center in Plano, Texas. The clinic was designed to help patients feel calm and supported.
Courtesy Courtney's SAFE Place

The Turning Point rape crisis center in Plano is designed to be a place where survivors of sexual assault feel safe.

More low-level misdemeanor offenders will be sent to Harris County’s Judge Ed Emmett Mental Health Diversion Center instead of jail, local officials announced Wednesday.

The World Health Organization recommends limited screen time for kids under 5.
Associated Press

The World Health Organization has issued new guidelines on how much screen time young children should get: Less is better for children under 5, and infants — kids younger than a year old — shouldn't be exposed to electronic screens at all.

When Netflix's 13 Reasons Why was released two years ago, depicting the life of a teenager who decided to take her own life, educators and psychologists warned the program could lead to copycat suicides. Now, a study funded by the National Institutes of Health shows that those concerns may have been warranted.

Peter Nunn is 32 and he's happy. He lives just outside Atlanta with his husband Monte, his dog Amelie, and their cat Hollow.

The dining room is decorated with a photo gallery wall of family — his husband dancing with his mother at their wedding and pictures of the couple. But it took a long time and work to get to a place where Nunn said he accepted and loved himself.

As a gay man, Nunn said, his father tried to change him.

For most of his career, Dr. Stephen Trzeciak was not a big believer in the "touchy-feely" side of medicine. As a specialist in intensive care and chief of medicine at Cooper University Health Care in Camden, N.J., Trzeciak felt most at home in the hard sciences.

In this July 26, 2018 photo, a four-year-old boy is shown playing in a Spiderman mask, who is being cared for by Evelyn Zepeda at her home in Austin, Texas.
Associated Press

For decades, the traditional approach to raising boys into men has emphasized toughness and stoicism.

Today, there are updated ways to bring up boys that draw on new insights into psychology and neuroscience.

Rep. Jonathan Stickland, a Republican from Bedford, testifying against House Bill 906 on April 12, 2019.
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The issue of improving mental health care across the state seemed like a unifying theme at the outset of this legislative session. It was also highlighted as an emergency item by Texas Governor Greg Abbott, who called for more student mental health screenings in response to last year's Santa Fe High School shooting.

Now, it's become the subject of some controversy at the statehouse. 

This summer, musician Katie Sucha will be touring England. And she's scared.

"It really is a serious mental challenge to walk through those doors and get on the plane," she explains. Sucha's fear of flying is so bad that when she was a teacher in Mississippi and wanted to visit her family in Michigan, she'd take a 14-hour bus ride rather than spend two hours in the air.

The first time Jessica Calise can remember her 9-year-old son Joseph's anxiety spiking was about a year ago, when he had to perform at a school concert. He said his stomach hurt and he might throw up. "We spent the whole performance in the bathroom," she recalls.

Work Stress. Home Stress. Financial Stress.

The toll of chronic stress isn't limited to emotional suffering. High stress can set the stage for heart disease.

In fact, research shows that those of us who perceive a lot of stress in our lives are at higher risk of heart attacks and other cardiovascular problems over the long term.

Empathy seems like a good quality in human beings. Pure and simple.

It allows us to consider the perspective of others — to put ourselves in their shoes and imagine their experiences. From that empathetic vantage point, only good things can come, right?

Last year, 33-year-old Walker Hughes — who has autism and is minimally verbal — was rushed to the hospital after he tried a new medication that made him agitated.

"We're driving at rush hour and my sweet guy is screaming and grabbing me and we're just scared to death," Walker's mom, Ellen Hughes, now 69, said in a StoryCorps interview recorded in February. "This is not the guy I know at all."

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