Mental Health

There are smartphone apps for monitoring your diet, your drugs, even your heart. And now a Michigan psychiatrist is developing an app he hopes doctors will someday use to predict when a manic episode is imminent in patients with bipolar disorder.

People with the disorder alternate between crushing depression and wild manic episodes that come with the dangerous mix of uncontrollable energy and impaired judgment.

Cambridge Police Department

Earlier this month, Somerville Police Officers Alan Monaco and Timothy Sullivan responded to a call about a fight between two young men. They found one of them, Mike, in an agitated state.

Michelle Malven/iStock / Thinkstock

Edward Yergeau, a patrol sergeant with the Hartford Police Department, has seen how changing attitudes about mental health has actually changed outcomes.

"Ten years ago," Yergeau said, "you either arrested a person, or threw them in the ambulance, and you were done with them. That was it." 

Steve Honigfeld

Our third Health Equity Forum is a project we’ve been working on for a few years now with our partners at Connecticut Health Foundation, exploring the idea of health equity in Connecticut. How do we make sure that everyone has the best possible health outcomes regardless of race, regardless of how much money you have?

It’s a tricky issue for policy makers, which is why we’re so glad to have as the basis for our conversation a new set of information called the Connecticut Health Care Survey. Six organizations came together to put out this report, which is drawn from some 5400 households interviewed. 

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, or DARPA, is launching a $70 million program to help military personnel with psychiatric disorders using electronic devices implanted in the brain.

The goal of the five-year program is to develop new ways of treating problems including depression, anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder, all of which are common among service members who fought in Iraq or Afghanistan.

Mental disorders can reduce life expectancy by 10 to 20 years, as much as or even more than smoking over 20 cigarettes a day, a study finds.

We know that smoking boosts the risk of cancer and heart disease, says Dr. Seena Fazel, a psychiatrist at Oxford University who led the study. But aside from the obvious fact that people with mental illnesses are more likely to commit suicide, it's not clear how mental disorders could be causing early deaths.

Rebecca Hildreth / Creative Commons

When the Boston Marathon bombing occurred, neuroscientists at Harvard University were midway through a study on trauma and the adolescent brain. As a result, they said they were able to make some new scientific links between PTSD and media exposure.

Last April, Professor Katie McLaughlin and her colleagues at Harvard were studying the brains of young people who’d been through serious adversity. They had recruited about 150 children and teens. Half had reported early trauma or stress, and half had not.

Suicide remains a leading cause of death in the United States, especially among teenagers and young adults. Anything that could reduce the toll would be good.

But asking everyone who goes to the doctor if he is considering suicide isn't the answer, according to a federal panel that evaluated the effectiveness of existing screening tools for suicide. They found there wasn't enough evidence to know whether screening the general public helps or hurts.

Jake Warga

Captain Jason Pace tries to treat symptoms of depression and stress without medication. He believes that there are burdens a solider must carry inside that may never be lifted.

Pogonici/iStock / Thinkstock

A forum taking place on Thursday afternoon in Middletown will bring together mental health providers and advocates to discuss the many challenges facing people with mental illness. 

Chion Wolf

A 16-year-old transgender girl who has been detained at the state women's prison for more than a month has been moved to another location at the prison.

Chion Wolf / WNPR

Single adults on Medicaid will soon be able to get therapy someplace other than a clinic. A bill passed by lawmakers last week aims to make the coverage available this year. 

How do you tell the difference between someone who needs to be taken to jail and someone who needs to be taken to the hospital? It can be a delicate situation to decipher, and it's been a big concern in Connecticut since the Newtown shootings of 2012.

Lance Newkirchen, a regular patrol officer in the town of Fairfield, is also specifically trained to respond to mental health calls. On a recent weekday, he headed out in his patrol car for a follow-up call.

Caitlin Regan / Creative Commons

Earlier this week, the General Assembly passed a bonding package allocating $22 million to strengthen school security across the state.

Saad Faruque / Creative Commons

Historically, people with epilepsy were thought to be possessed by demons. Research has come a long way since then, but epilepsy remains mysterious. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that one in 26 people will be diagnosed with epilepsy in their lives. Annually, it costs more than $15 billion in medical costs and reduced work production.

Paul Horton / Creative Commons

School officials and health care professionals joined lawmakers at the state capitol on Thursday, touting the importance of early mental health care intervention for kids. It's a cause that's gotten increased attention since the school shooting in Newtown.

Ed Kelley and his wife have three children. They live in a comfortable suburb of Baltimore. And for a long time their life seemed perfect.

"We were churchgoing; we were involved in the community. We had a very close-knit family all around us."

And he adored his 14-year-old son.

"He was funny, he was getting good grades, he loved playing sports; he was so humorous. Actually for the longest time he was sort of the center of the family."

Jeff Cohen / WNPR

The Affordable Care Act is all about getting people health insurance. Once they're insured, there's another hurdle: getting them access to care. That's a particular problem for people living on low incomes.

It's even more of a problem for the poor who seek behavioral health care. 

Jeff Cohen / WNPR

How do you tell the difference between someone who needs to be taken to jail and someone who needs to be taken to the hospital? That’s a big concern in Connecticut, where the intersection of law enforcement and mental health has been a huge issue since the Newtown shootings of 2012. 

WNPR spent time with police officers to learn about their training in mental health.

miz_ginevra / Flickr Creative Commons

Consider America from 1985 to 2000. You wouldn't say nothing happened in those 15 years but America was a fairly calm place to be most of the time.

Now consider the period that came next. It began with a presidential election so riddled with such uncertainties that the effort to confirm the result dragged on for days and went to the Supreme Court.

Nick Caito / The Connecticut Forum

For a bit more than a year, we’ve been trying to find different ways to tell the stories of mental health and mental illness in America.

The shootings at Sandy Hook presented a national narrative that was conducted at two poles. On one end, we made the conversation about guns. On the other, it was about mental illness.

It seems we conducted these different conversations the same way: too simply, with too little nuance, and too little listening to others. Many seemed content in their belief that we really knew all that we could know about that incident, and about that shooter; that just keeping guns out of the hands of the mentally ill, and strengthening our mental health system, would solve our problems.

With the Army's disclosure that Army Spc. Ivan Lopez was being evaluated for post-traumatic stress disorder before he went on a shooting rampage Wednesday, there were once again questions about whether the Army could have prevented the violence at Fort Hood.

Yale Refugee Clinic

Refugees face many challenges after resettling in a new country and it can be especially hard for children. On Saturday at Luce Hall Auditorium, Yale School of Medicine and Yale's MacMillan Center are hosting a conference for educators to learn about ways to help refugee students adjust.

Jonathan McNicol

From Faith Middleton: Roughly 40 million Americans reportedly say they have struggled with anxiety issues. Why wouldn't we in such a surprising world? Still, there are anxiety sufferers and there are anxiety sufferers. Scott Stossel is one of the latter.

Pediatricians often recommend some mental health counseling for children who have behavior problems like defiance and tantrums. But counseling can be hard to find. Children are much more likely to get help if the counselor is right there in the doctor's office, a study finds.

The children in the study had behavior problems, and many also had attention deficit hyperactivity disorder or anxiety. They were 8 years old, on average, and two-thirds were boys.

Lucy Nalpathanchil

In 2012, a legislative committee found seven percent of Connecticut adolescents between the ages of 12 and 17 had substance abuse issues. And the majority of those who needed treatment did not receive it.

In the last story of a three-part series, WNPR reports on the challenges families encounter with their insurance plans when seeking help for their teenage son or daughter.

Rushford

One out of every 22 Connecticut high schoolers has taken medication such as painkillers that weren’t prescribed for them, according to the National Survey of Drug Use and Health. In the second of a three-part series, WNPR looks at treatment options available for local teens with substance abuse issues.

Lucy Nalpathanchil / WNPR

A big increase in opiate overdoses nationwide has focused attention on substance abuse. Nine out of ten adults suffering from addiction said they began using drugs or alcohol when they were adolescents.

In the first of a three-part series on youth battling addiction, WNPR introduces you to the Harmons of Guilford.

We still don't know why Adam Lanza killed his mother, then 20 children and six teachers at Sandy Hook Elementary School before turning a gun on himself in December 2012. But we do know more about Lanza's life, what his doctors had to say about him and what his parents did to try to help him.

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