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.

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.

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.

Loneliness isn't just a fleeting feeling, leaving us sad for a few hours to a few days. Research in recent years suggests that for many people, loneliness is more like a chronic ache, affecting their daily lives and sense of well-being.

Now a nationwide survey by the health insurer Cigna underscores that. It finds that loneliness is widespread in America, with nearly 50 percent of respondents reporting that they feel alone or left out always or sometimes.

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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.

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