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.

Syeda Hasan / KERA News

More and more people are experiencing homelessness across North Texas — and candidates in the Dallas mayoral race are weighing in on how to change that. 

It's not always easy to find a therapist who meets your mental health needs, is taking new patients, and takes health insurance. The search process can involve some trial and error.
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If you look closely at a therapist’s business card, you’ll usually see a string of letters after the name — something like LPC, or maybe LCSW. Here's a quick guide to what can seem like alphabet soup. 

Our thoughts and fears, movements and sensations all arise from the electrical blips of billions of neurons in our brain. Streams of electricity flow through neural circuits to govern these actions of the brain and body, and some scientists think that many neurological and psychiatric disorders may result from dysfunctional circuits.

Dallas Zoo visitors watch trainers work with lions at the Wild Gatherings event on Monday, March 25, 2019.
Syeda Hasan / KERA News

On a sunny spring day, families gathered outside the lion enclosure at the Dallas Zoo, where trainers took the big cats through some exercises and rewarded them with meatballs. Sara Salinas came out to see the lions with her uncle Simon, who was diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease about 11 years ago. 

Even therapists need someone to talk to sometimes. Lori Gottlieb is a psychotherapist who started seeing a therapist herself five years ago, when the man she thought she would marry unexpectedly broke up with her, shattering her sense of the present and the future.

"My reaction was the reaction of everybody that I told at the time, [which] was 'This guy's a jerk! You dodged a bullet!' " Gottlieb says. "But once I go to therapy, I start to see — or I'm forced to see — the situation, and my role in it too."

 Emma Walters' T-shirt drawer after organizing.
Courtesy Emma Walters

When she moved out of her Collin County apartment last July, 26-year-old Emma Walters began taking stock of her belongings.

Steven Senne/Associated Press

Dr. Leana Wen is no stranger to working under pressure. As an emergency physician, she was charged with making life-or-death decisions about her patients' health. Now, as president of Planned Parenthood, she's at the helm of one of the nation's most polarizing health care and advocacy groups. 

Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings speaking at Dallas City Hall on Wednesday, Feb. 27, 2019.
Syeda Hasan / KERA

The city of Dallas has joined forces with nonprofit North Texas Alliance to Reduce Unintended Pregnancy in Teens — or Ntarupt — to try to cut down on its staggering teen birth rate. 

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From dealing with memory loss to regrowing brain cells, Veronica Blackman's mind was buzzing with new ideas as she waited for a ride to the airport. Blackman is a teacher in Detroit who works with students from kindergarten to third grade. 

African-Americans are 20 percent more likely to experience serious mental health issues than the general population, according to Integral Care, which provides mental health care in Travis County.

flag-draped coffin - veteran suicide
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A recent report from the Washington Post, titled "The Parking Lot Suicides," looks into the disturbing trend of veterans dying by suicide on the property of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. A North Texas nonprofit has developed a program to combat veteran suicides.

Researchers in San Antonio are recruiting people with mild cognitive impairment for a nationwide study to see if nicotine improves symptoms.

The study is called the MIND study -- Memory Improvement Through Nicotine Dosing.

Dr. Stacia' Alexander and Lakeita Roberts are licensed professional counselors practicing in Dallas. Both are listed in the Therapy for Black Girls online directory.
Syeda Hasan / KERA News

Directories of therapists of color are becoming increasingly popular, like Therapy for Black Girls and the National Queer & Trans Therapists of Color Network. This trend seems to signal a growing openness toward mental health care among minority communities. Still, Dallas counselors say the work isn't finished.

"Some people dislike diagnoses, disagreeably calling them boxes and labels," writes Esmé Weijun Wang in the first essay of her new book, The Collected Schizophrenias." [B]ut I've always found comfort in preexisting conditions. I like to know that I'm not pioneering an inexplicable condition."

Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, left, listens as Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, right, gives his State of the State Address in the House Chamber, Tuesday, Feb. 5, 2019, in Austin, Texas.
Associated Press

Texas Governor Greg Abbott made mental health care one of the primary themes of his State of the State address Tuesday, including more student mental health screenings.

This image from video provided by Michelob shows a frame from their 2019 Super Bowl commercial for Michelob Ultra Pure Gold. The ad features the actress Zoe Kravitz using techniques for autonomous sensory meridian response, or ASMR.
Michelob via Associated Press

A new Super Bowl commercial aims to calm frenzied football fans with oddly relaxing images of actress Zoe Kravitz whispering into a pair of microphones and softly tapping on a bottle.

The beer ad already has drawn more than 10 million views and stands to expose a vast audience to an internet craze known as ASMR, or autonomous sensory meridian response.

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Shortly after a gunman killed 10 people at Santa Fe High School last year, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott unveiled a 40-point plan for improving school safety, which included calls for boosting mental health services for students. 

San Antonio will receive a new $320 million psychiatric hospital to replace the slanted floors and sinking foundations of the city's decades-old facility, according to Texas officials.

Congressman Joaquin Castro made an appeal to Veterans Affairs Secretary Robert Wilkie on Wednesday, asking him to look into possible links between post-traumatic stress disorder and dementia.


Volunteers participate in the homeless count in 2016.
Associated Press

Hundreds of volunteers will take to the streets of North Texas tomorrow to count the local homeless population. The annual count provides critical data on the state of homelessness, and this year, in Dallas and Collin counties, it’s being done under new leadership.

Judy Amabile believes that if Colorado enacts an Extreme Risk Protection Order bill, it could help prevent her son from buying a gun.
Leigh Paterson, KUNC

Judy Amabile has a crumpled sleeping bag laid out on the porch of her bright, beautiful home in downtown Boulder, Colorado.

"My son isn't supposed to come in the house when he's been drinking. That's why we have this sleeping bag out here," she explained. "Anybody else would look at that and think uh, what? But for us it's like…That’s life."

Lawmakers returned to Austin this month for the first time since the Santa Fe High School shooting, and they have repeatedly assured that school safety will take center stage during the legislative session.
Associated Press

 

Following a deadly shooting at Santa Fe High School in May that left 10 dead and 13 others wounded, Gov. Greg Abbott released a 43-page school safety plan outlining suggestions for bills the Legislature could pass this session to reduce the threat of gun violence in Texas schools.

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The American Psychological Association sparked a fierce debate last week when it issued its first-ever guidelines for psychologists working with men and boys. The list of 10 guidelines suggests that men who ascribe to "traditional masculinity" may suffer negative consequences to their mental and physical health.

When Toni and Jim Hoy adopted their son Daniel through the foster care system, he was an affectionate toddler. They did not plan to give him back to the state of Illinois, ever.

"Danny was this cute, lovable little blond-haired, blue-eyed baby," Jim says.

Toni recalls times Daniel would reach over, put his hands on her face and squish her cheeks. "And he would go, 'You pretty, Mom,' " Toni says. "Oh my gosh, he just melted my heart when he would say these very loving, endearing things to me."

The song says "It's The Most Wonderful Time of the Year."  But for some, the holiday cannot come and go soon enough because with them come the holiday blues - that feeling of anxiety and depression that can surge at the holidays. But what about more persistent mental illness? How do we as a society handle that?

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.

I was having a tough summer.

I was working a day job while writing a book, sometimes pulling 14-hour days. I felt overcome with guilt when I wasn't working toward my deadline. I hardly had time to see friends. Most of my down time was spent in an unhealthy way: scrolling through social media.

I was irritated, isolated and anxious. For the first time in my life, I started going to therapy, which was difficult for me to admit to myself that I needed.

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.

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