mental health

R.J. Reynolds

With mental health issues at the forefront of local and national discussion, the phrase "the mentally ill" has become commonplace in media headlines. But does it really belong there -- or anywhere, for that matter? We talk with Tufts Medical Center’s Psychiatrist-in-Chief about the importance of the words we use when talking about mental illness. 

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Researchers at Yale have identified a genetic mutation that that could lead to new treatments for Tourette syndrome.

But before we get into that, what's it like to have Tourette's? Just ask Josh Hanagarne, who's wrestled with it his whole life. Speaking on WNPR's The Colin McEnroe Show, he described what it's like to live with a disorder that's most well-known for its tics and verbal outbursts.

People are increasingly turning to mindfulness mediation to manage health issues, and meditation classes are being offered through schools and hospitals.

But doctors have questioned whether this ancient Eastern practice really offers measurable health benefits. A fresh review of the evidence should help sort that out.

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Today on The Scramble we lead off with some reporting that will be featured this week on a PBS' "Frontline" story, To Catch a Trader. It's the story of a federal probe into insider trading and the specific role of Connecticut's Steve Cohen, and his SAC hedge fund. 

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Neuroscientist James Fallon found something shocking when he was looking at brain scans of serial killers for research, and brain scans of his family for signs of disease. According to the scan, his own brain was no different than that of a psychopath. The discovery opened up a new world of research, TED talks and his recent book, The Psychopath Inside: A Neuroscientist’s Personal Journey into the Dark Side of the Brain. 

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A group in Connecticut met earlier this month to explore a simple question -- how to intervene if you think someone may be suffering from a mental illness. They were learning about "mental health first aid," which was developed in Australia in 2001 and has captured the attention of many in America, including President Barack Obama.

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When Americans get older, two things often happen. Some are forced into a life where everyone around them is the same age, in an assisted living community when they become reliant on others for their care.

Others choose this life, retiring to the south, in a community of active seniors with no kids allowed. But what’s the impact of this kind of social isolation from those of other ages?

Chion Wolf / WNPR

Late last week, state police released the thousands of documents that made up their investigation into the Newtown shootings. Even though more is now known about the gunman who killed 20 children, six educators, his mother, and himself, it doesn't appear that anything gunman Adam Lanza did before December 14, 2012 could have gotten serious attention from law enforcement.

State of Connecticut

There are a lot of people who, for understandable reasons, would like the story of the Sandy Hook shootings to fade away. But, of course it never will. It's part of our molecular structure, especially here in Connecticut. 

This hour, we touch on some of the questions answered  by the release of the state's so called final report on the murders. We also talk about some of the questions that haven't been answered and the peculiar, to some of us, reluctance by the state to release this report. 

Connecticut State Police have released an exhaustive report on last year's Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in Newtown, offering some new details on the massacre that left 20 first-graders and six educators dead.

Photographs taken by investigators of the home that 20-year-old shooter Adam Lanza shared with his mother show "numerous rounds of ammunition, gun magazines, shot-up paper targets, gun cases, shooting earplugs and a gun safe with a rifle in it," The Associated Press writes.

State of Connecticut

One of the enduring questions in the aftermath of the Newtown shooting is whether Adam Lanza's mental health contributed to his decision to kill 20 children, six educators, his mother, and himself. But privacy laws have gotten in the way of answering it.

Chion Wolf / WNPR

Researchers at Hartford Hospital are looking into a gene that determines how fast the liver clears medication from the body. The goal of the five-year study is to reduce the guesswork in psychiatric drug dosing.

It's a gene with a fancy name: CYP2D6

As Connecticut Gov. Dannel Malloy sped from Hartford to Newtown nearly a year ago, the death toll kept rising. When he arrived on the scene, he found himself in charge — and it fell to him to answer the question: How long should family members have to wait to learn that their loved ones were gone?

Malloy decided that he was going to do what he thought was right. Still, standing in front of more than two dozen families gathered in a firehouse, he doubted that it was.

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As the slogan goes, "Guns don't kill people; people kill people." But the people who do get killed are frequently the ones pulling the trigger.

Matthew Miller at the Harvard School of Public Health, who will appear Friday on WNPR's Where We Live, found that gun owners are more likely to die by suicide than non-owners. Across the U.S., the more available guns are, the more frequently suicide occurs.

Lucy Nalpathanchil / WNPR

The discussion after last year's Newtown shootings was dominated by two topics: gun control and mental health. Many people focused on possible illnesses of the shooter, but there’s another side to the mental health discussion. In the aftermath of a tragedy, communities need help healing.

Chion Wolf

I suppose you could say that today's show is about a fairly obvious truth--singing with other people feels good. 

But, it's a little bit more complicated than that. When you go to a church and pick up a hymnal and sing what everybody else sings, it feels okay. And, a fairly complex set of activities takes place in your brain, and that's nice, but it pales in comparison to really singing with others. 

That is, getting together with other people and rehearsing and working toward a truly successful blend of voices.

The Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act of 2008 requires health plans that offer benefits for mental health and substance use to cover them to the same extent that they cover medical and surgical care.

Among other things, the law prohibits treatment limits and copayments or deductibles that are more restrictive than a plan's medical coverage.

The mother of a child killed in the Newtown school shootings spoke to staff at Connecticut Children's Medical Center Tuesday morning. Nelba Marquez-Greene was a featured speaker during a lecture on child traumatic stress and PTSD.

Middle-Age "Senior Moments" Just Part of Aging

Nov 27, 2013
Jordan Harrison Graphic / Connecticut Health I-Team

Everyone occasionally struggles to remember a name, blanks out on an appointment or forgets why they walked into the other room. But somewhere around age 40, those “senior moments” start to take on a new seriousness. They suddenly seem like scary signs of aging, perhaps harbingers of major memory loss to come.

Parents who have a child struggling with serious mental illness live in fear that the worst will happen.

The apparent suicide of a young man in Virginia after he allegedly attacked his father, a state senator, shows how difficult it can be for families to get help in the midst of a mental health crisis.

The recession brought deep cuts in states' spending on mental health. The reductions made it harder for people to get help before they're in crisis, mental health advocates say, and even harder to find a hospital bed in an emergency.

Visual Law Project

Yale Law School’s Visual Law Project has created a film about Northern Correctional Institution in Somers, Connecticut. The documentary film sheds light on the hidden world of supermax prisons, where inmates may be held in solitary confinement for weeks, months, and even years at a time. The film is called "The Worst of the Worst."

Office of Governor Dannel Malloy

Governor Malloy announced three new initiatives that will make it easier for families to access mental health services, and to provide better identification and intervention for children and teens with mental health issues. 

Chion Wolf / WNPR

I really meant to donate to the NPR fund drive. I just forgot. Well, actually I didn't. But still, I should have donated. I feel so guilty! Guilt is a funny thing. It's a pervasive emotion with the power to both motivate--and oppress.

The death of Miriam Carey, killed by police gunfire Thursday after leading a car chase from the White House to the Capitol, is prompting questions from her family about whether she deserved to die. The incident, of which details remain unexplained, is leading experts to analyze the actions of the officers present.

"We're still very confused as a family why she's not still alive," Carey's sister Amy Carey-Jones told the AP late Friday. "I really feel like it's not justified, not justified."

FBI Seeks Answers Following DC Car Rampage

Oct 4, 2013

FBI agents in Stamford, Conn., are searching for clues about why an unarmed 34-year-old mother who lived there went on a driving rampage in Washington, D.C. yesterday.

The incident resulted in her shooting death by Capitol police.

Miriam Carey was traveling with her 1-year-old daughter when she tried to breach a barrier at the White House, and then veered her car down Constitution Avenue, driving up to 80-miles-per-hour, toward the Capitol buildings. She eventually crashed into a barrier.

Coming up, we'll air the premiere of a new investigative reporting program called Reveal. It's from the Center for Investigative Reporting and PRX. In the pilot episode:

A study on guns, violence and mental health, long scheduled to be published this week, finds that gun ownership is a bigger factor than mental illness when it comes to firearms deaths. But the data suggest that both play roles.

The county's Twin Towers Correctional Facility in downtown Los Angeles is a hulking, massive concrete structure. It is also part of the largest municipal jail system in the United States.

On a recent day, four men enter handcuffed with a police escort. The sheriff's deputies assign them cells, and for the duration of their sentences, this is home. The men wear bright blue pants and neon yellow shirts to set them apart from other inmates.

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Yesterday marked the beginning of National Suicide Prevention Week and tomorrow is World Suicide Prevention Day, both intended to call attention to a serious public health issue.

We were recently shocked by the suicide of a 15-year-old Greenwich High School student after his first day of school.

But the numbers prove this is not an isolated incident. Every 15 minutes, someone dies by suicide in the U.S. For every one of the almost 40,000 people who died this year, there are many more who think about, plan, or attempt suicide.

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