Mental Health

Homelessness in Greater Hartford: Meet Sal Pinna

Feb 20, 2015
Susan Campbell / WNPR

Salvatore Pinna, 52, grew up on Long Island and came to Connecticut 20 years ago. In official parlance, Pinna is chronically homeless, which is how the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development describes someone who has been homeless for a year or more, or who has had at least four incidences of homelessness in three years, and has a disability. 

Pinna more than fits the description. He has effectively been homeless since he came to Connecticut in the '90s. Some of that time he spent living on the streets and sleeping under bridges. 

Chion Wolf

Salvatore Pinna moved to Connecticut 20 years ago. The 52-year-old has been living on the streets and under bridges since he moved here. He's one of many chronically homeless people in the state.

This hour, we meet Sal and hear the first of a series of stories about homelessness in Greater Hartford, where the 100-Day Challenge is about to begin, an initiative to try to to eliminate barriers and connect stakeholders -- to create a plan to end chronic homelessness -- in 100 days.

Alyssa L. Miller / WNPR

My mother was an Alzheimer's patient. I think it's fair to say the disease killed her although like a lot of people in their 80's with serious illnesses, she got caught in a whirlpool of problems that made it hard to pin the blame on any one thing.

Ted Murphy / Creative Commons

A study co-authored by Yale University finds a link between problem gambling and obsessive-compulsive behaviors.

Over the years, it's been difficult for psychiatrists to classify problem gambling. It was once considered a impulse control disorder.

In the latest edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, problem gambling is classified as an addiction.

A new study by Yale University, St. Louis University, and the VA finds an overlap between problem gambling and obsessive compulsive behaviors. 

Chion Wolf / WNPR

A panel created by Connecticut Governor Dannel Malloy in the wake of the Newtown school shooting has issued a set of draft recommendations aimed at avoiding another tragedy like Sandy Hook.

The 256-page report from the Sandy Hook Advisory Commission was posted online Thursday.

The report offers recommendations in the areas of school design and operations, mental health, and law enforcement.

Senate Democrats

The U.S. Senate approved the Clay Hunt Suicide Prevention for American Veterans Act by a vote of 99-0 Tuesday afternoon. The bill seeks to improve mental health care and suicide prevention resources for veterans. 

The federal VA estimates 22 veterans die by suicide each day.

Marine Clay Hunt has become the face of the suicide epidemic. Hunt killed himself in 2011 after deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan. His family and veteran advocates say he struggled with post-traumatic stress disorder and received inadequate care from the VA before taking his own life.

Chion Wolf / WNPR

The Alzheimer’s Association says about five million people in the United States have some form of dementia. They expect that number to increase dramatically as baby boomers age and more people live longer. By 2050, we can expect that number to rise to about a million new diagnoses every year.

Unless things change, many of us will end up in nursing homes.

Alberto Bocchetta, Giorgio Tamburini, Pina Cavolina, Alessandra Serra, Andrea Loviselli and Mario Piga / Wikimedia Commons

Yale University and the state are now offering a new treatment to young people living in the New Haven area who are experiencing psychotic symptoms. The treatment is also the subject of a soon-to-be-released study.

Fear is one of the strongest and most basic of human emotions, and it's the focus of Fearless, the second episode of Invisibilia, NPR's new show on the invisible forces that shape human behavior.

This segment of the show explores how a man decided to conquer his fear of rejection by getting rejected every day — on purpose.

The evolution of Jason Comely, a freelance IT guy from Cambridge, Ontario, began one sad night several years ago.

Military Rehab Program Welcomes NFL Retirees

Jan 5, 2015

Since 1993, the Eisenhower Center in Ann Arbor, Mich., has been working to rehabilitate veterans of the military who’ve suffered traumatic brain injuries in combat. Recently, the center’s program called After the Impact has also begun serving football players experiencing impairment as a result of concussions or sub-concussive hits.

When Priscilla Graham-Farmer went to get her hair done in Newark, N.J., recently, she noticed the elevator in the building was broken, so she took the stairs. And that's when Graham-Farmer saw him: a young guy sprawled out, not breathing.

"He was literally turning blue," she says. "And everybody was walking over him."

But Graham-Farmer stopped. And looked closer. She saw that he had a needle and some cotton balls. The guy had clearly overdosed.

"I'm screaming in the hallway," Graham-Farmer remembers. "Nobody's answering."

Chion Wolf / WNPR

It’s been two years since a gunman killed his mother at home and then opened fire at the Sandy Hook Elementary School, killing 20 first-graders, six educators, and himself.

But experts are still hashing out just how parents and educators should handle children like Adam Lanza. 

Mark Wragg/iStock / Thinkstock

According to a new Yale study, addiction is a chronic disease that is treated like an acute illness. But what if we treated it differently, with longer-term goals?

Ten to 20 percent of new mothers will experience a mental health issue. A new study indicates that one way to help them is by leaning on pediatricians. 

State of Connecticut

Last month, the Office of the Child Advocate released a report on Newtown school shooter Adam Lanza. It details Lanza's mental health history and how the educational system handled his case.

We sit down with the state's child advocate, Sarah Eagan, to get a better sense of how Lanza slipped through the cracks of the educational system. We also hear from others who worked on the report.

Commerce Marketing Communications Photography / Texas A&M UNiv

A new Yale University Study reveals a negative bias toward mental health patients whose symptoms are explained biologically.

State of Connecticut

Nearly two years after the shooting at Sandy Hook, officials are still looking for answers. A new report from the Office of the Child Advocate provides a window in the mental health of the gunman, Adam Lanza. 

Jeff Cohen / WNPR

Young human brains are delicate, developing things. A panel last week in Middletown focused on how the brain can be affected by drugs, alcohol, and technology. 

Wikimedia Commons

You know lots of sociopaths right?

It could be anyone from your ex-spouse to the guy who cut you off on your drive to work today. It's a term we throw around loosely to refer to anyone whoever lied to us or didn't follow the rules. 

But, if we use it that way, it's not a very useful term. A sociopath is not the same thing as a jerk. In fact, the person you know who strikes you as a jerk is probably not a sociopath because it's not in the best interests of sociopaths to let you know what kind of people they are and sociopaths are usually pretty good about acting in their own best interests.

Tiffany Bailey / Creative Commons

According to statistics, one in every three Americans is obese and two of every three are overweight.

While we know that extra fat may set us up for heart disease, diabetes, and musculoskeletal problems, we don't really know how fat affects sex and love.

Halting Schizophrenia Before It Starts

Oct 20, 2014

The important thing is that Meghan knew something was wrong.

When I met her, she was 23, a smart, wry young woman living with her mother and stepdad in Simi Valley, about an hour north of Los Angeles.

Meghan had just started a training program to become a respiratory therapist. Concerned about future job prospects, she asked NPR not to use her full name.

Chion Wolf / WNPR

Last Wednesday, the Department of Children and Families submitted a new five-year plan calling for a redesign of the state’s children’s behavioral health system. This hour, DCF's Joette Katz and Kristina Stevens sit down with us to explain how the new behavioral health plan addresses some of the recent criticisms of Connecticut’s child mental health care system.

Diane Orson / WNPR

Some of the unaccompanied minors who made the dangerous trek across the border between Mexico and the United States are in Connecticut now, and are enrolled in local public schools.

Krystal International Vacation Club / Creative Commons

Research shows that using your vacation time can have some major benefits. For one, it’s better for productivity, and -- as one study shows -- it can even be better for your health. But are Americans taking enough time off, or are we really a "no-vacation nation"? 


The panel created by Governor Dannel Malloy to review the Newtown school shooting reviewed its recommendations at a meeting on Tuesday. 

The Sandy Hook Advisory Commission discussed draft language proposed by groups' recommendations on law enforcement, safe school design and operation, and mental health. 

Chronic stress is hazardous to health and can lead to early death from heart disease, cancer and of other health problems. But it turns out it doesn't matter whether the stress comes from major events in life or from minor problems. Both can be deadly.

And it may be that it's not the stress from major life events like divorce, illness and job loss trickled down to everyday life that gets you; it's how you react to the smaller, everyday stress.

The most stressed-out people have the highest risk of premature death, according to one study that followed 1,293 men for years.

The state is rolling out a new campaign to get people talking about a topic they typically avoid: suicide. 

In 2013, there were more than suicides in Connecticut. According to the state, it's a number that has stayed relatively constant over time, and it's also a number that's lower than the national average. On the one hand, that's good news. On the other, fewer suicides would be even better.

Kelley Conkling / Creative Commons

The State Department of Children and Families has released a draft plan designed to better meet the behavioral and mental health needs of Connecticut children. The plan is required under legislation passed last year by the General Assembly in response to the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School.

Chion Wolf

If things had gone according to his plan, Kevin Hines would have been dead for the last 14 years and therefore, not appearing on today's show. 

In September 2000, he jumped off the Golden Gate Bridge, the second most popular suicide site in the world. Somewhere around 1,600 people have jumped to their deaths from that bridge since it opened in 1937. The rate seems to be rising.

But, this isn't really a show about that location. It's about what we learn from a person who survives a very serious suicide attempt.

Spotmatik/iStock / Thinkstock

Children with mental health problems are spending more time in emergency rooms, according to a report from the Connecticut Health Investigative Team. In 2010, 40 children spent multiple nights in the emergency room for mental health issues. By the end of this year, C-HIT says that number is expected to rise to 500.