Mental Health

American Medical Association

On this edition of In Black America, producer/host John L. Hanson Jr. speaks with Dr. Patrice A. Harris, MD, a psychiatrist and president-elect of the American Medical Association. She'll serve for a year as president-elect and become the first African-American woman to lead the organization in 2019.

Harris talks about becoming a physician, her vision for the organization, mental health in the African-American community, and being the first African-American woman to lead the AMA.

From Texas Standard:

A 2014 Department of State Health Services report found almost three-quarters of Texas counties had no psychiatrists at all. That means Texans seeking mental health in these mostly rural areas often have to drive hours to an appointment – if they can get one at all. But a new program in Midland could offer at least a partial fix.

Caroline Covington

From Texas Standard:

Over the years, Kandice Mallard and her mom Brenda Dagestad  have traveled hours from their home in Abilene to see psychiatrists. First, it was Midland, then Lubbock – about two-and-a-half hours away. Then, they found a Dallas-based doctor who used telemedicine. That meant Kandice could have her appointments locally. 

Gabriel C. Pérez / KUT

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.

Pixabay

From Texas Standard.

As many reacted with shock this week to the deaths of designer Kate Spade and celebrity chef Anthony Bourdain, we also learned from the Centers for Disease Control that suicide rates have risen in nearly every state between 1999 and 2016, the latest year for which complete data is available. Though Texas remains below the national rate, suicides have been rising here, too. The state experiences 12.9 suicides per 100,000 Texans. Across the nation, there were more than twice as many suicides as homicides in 2016. The CDC says these trends cannot be linked to any specific medical diagnosis. 

Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon/KUT

From Texas Standard.

In what many would call the "Bible Belt" of the Lone Star State, an ugly reality looms. Communities in East Texas are grappling with a suicide rate that’s higher than any of the other most populous counties in the state.

Montinique Monroe for KUTX

Austin’s a lonely place, but it’s not alone.

A new survey from health insurance giant Cigna found Austin has a higher-than-average concentration of people – particularly, younger people – who feel loneliness or disconnection from those around them.

Sixty percent of Austinites feel loneliness, compared to the 54 percent national average.

Sean Murphy for KUT

Today is officially “Hi, How Are You Day” in Austin – a holiday that both honors onetime Austinite Daniel Johnston and hopes to raise awareness of mental health issues.

Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon / KUT

How people get mental health care is being reimagined in Austin.

Dell Medical School and several mental health providers are working together to figure out a better way to decide who gets what kind of care and who is going to give it to them.

Emil Pakarklis/Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

From Texas Standard:

The first few days of the school year are an anxious time for most kids. But there’s a group whose levels of stress and anxiety are so high that they can only be compared to those who have experienced trauma.

Silvia Zuvieta Rodriguez is one of them.

“Since I was little I always had anxiety when it came to my parents not coming home at a certain time,” she says.

Matt Lankes Photography

Austin Mayor Steve Adler joined mayors across the country in drawing attention to mental health as part of the National Mayors' Mental Health Day of Action on Wednesday. He called on Congress to protect mental health services in the American Health Care Act, which, if passed in its current state, would leave many people without access to mental health care in Travis County.

Gabriel Cristóver Pérez / KUT

Depending on what thermometer you’re looking at, this year’s average temperature has been between 5 and 7 degrees hotter than usual so far in Austin. That could set 2017 up to be one of Austin’s hottest years ever.  People who research climate change already know a lot about how warmer temperatures disrupt human activity. But hot days may have an impact on our mental health that we’re only just starting to understand.

Courtesy of Jesse McCrum

People keep secrets for a lot of reasons. Imagine not feeling like you could share something fundamental about yourself with the people in your life. That’s the situation for many people diagnosed with a mental illness. They fear the misunderstanding, judgment or rejection that could come with sharing the details of their situation with others.  

Austin Clubhouse provides rehabilitation and support for adults who have severe and persistent mental illness, with treatment that focuses on quality of life issues. Member Jesse McCrum sat down with KUT to discuss his experience and the impact the Clubhouse has had on his life. 

Stefano Corso/Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

From Texas Standard:

Editor's note: This story uses first names only because of an ongoing case with Child Protective Services.

Since at least the 1970s, researchers in Texas have been calling substance use a "family affair." A study by the Texas Research Institute's Drug Abuse Clinic compared two groups of families similar to each other in every aspect – from socio-economic status to ethnic background. The only difference was that one group had at least one family member who was an addict. The study found fathers dealing with drugs were critical and arrogant, mothers were disenfranchised and children were bitter and resentful.

That was in the '70s, but the story is not so different today.


Anna Casey/Texas Standard

From Texas Standard:

Editor’s note: Some of the stories in this post may be disturbing to young readers.

Camp Brave Heart sits just outside of Wimberley, near the Blanco River. It looks just like any other American summer camp. But here the swimming, bonfires and camp songs are secondary to the main mission.

All Brave Heart’s campers have experienced the recent loss of a loved one.

 


Courtesy Alex Horton

From Texas Standard:

The parents of Army Captain Humayun Khan have spent the last few days in the national spotlight, clashing with Donald Trump. The Khans are just one couple among the millions of parents whose children have gone to war. But the spotlight has illuminated the agonies and anxiety that military parents struggle with but seldom talk about openly.

Alex Horton, a Texan who served 15 months in Iraq as an army infantryman, is now a national reporter for Stars and Stripes. He recently wrote about his parents' experience while he was gone.

 


Caleb Bryant Miller/KUT News

From Texas Standard:

Out of the Blue: 50 Years After the UT Tower Shooting” is Texas Standard’s oral history on the anniversary of the first public mass shooting of its kind. Throughout the week, we'll be bringing you more stories about the impact the shooting had on Texas and the world.

The University at Texas at Austin motto is meant to inspire: "What starts here changes the world."

Mental illness can be hard to acknowledge or talk about. Two Austinites who are educators and advocates with the National Alliance on Mental Illness want to help people get past that. And they’re focusing on the African American community.

mirsasha via flickr

For more than a century, the Austin State Hospital has been a fixture in Hyde Park. While the facility near Guadalupe and 41st Streets is primarily a psychiatric hospital, its winding trails and tree-lined campus are a popular recreational space for neighbors. Now, state leaders are considering selling the property and relocating the hospital – a move that has some residents concerned. 

Jared Hersch/Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

From Texas Standard:

Editor's note: This story discusses details that may not be suitable for children.

Fifteen years ago this week, Andrea Yates – a mom from a Houston suburb – methodically and systematically drowned all five of her children. The kids ranged in age from six months to seven years old.

Laura Buckman for The Texas Tribune

In the last five months, LaNelia Ramette has been to the home of eight Denton County families who had just lost a loved one to suicide. Three of those times, she arrived on the scene before the police tape came down.

Unlike the police officers and medical examiners she encounters on her shifts, Ramette is not a typical first responder. She is a volunteer who appears at the scene of tragedy — with the medical examiner’s permission — to be a voice of compassion in a suicide survivor’s darkest hour.

Image via Flickr/Paul Weaver (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

From Texas Standard:

Tonight, President Barack Obama will speak and take questions at a televised town hall hosted by CNN.

The topic? Guns – specifically, the administration's new executive orders on gun control.

 


From the Austin Monitor

From the Austin Monitor: Travis County has seen an astonishing rise in the number of inmates dealing with mental health issues in the past decade.

That message was the thrust of a lengthy briefing delivered to the Commissioners Court on Tuesday by a broad coalition of county officials and community stakeholders, including Austin Travis County Integral Care and the Capital Area Private Defender Service.

Image via Facebook/Susan Hawk

From Texas Standard:

Earlier this year, Dallas County District Attorney Susan Hawk disappeared.

Her office fielded questions as to her whereabouts explaining that she was just taking a summer break, and that everything was fine.

Everything wasn't fine, as the public would learn later.

As Hawk's absence continued, the DA publicly revealed she was struggling with depression. More recently, in a candid interview with D Magazine, Hawk revealed that she was experiencing suicidal thoughts and had spent two months getting treatment at a psychiatric hospital in Houston.

 


Flickr/Chris Miller CC BY 2.0)

From Texas Standard:

For 35 years, Jerry Hartfield sat in a prison awaiting trial — and now he’s finally getting one. Hartfield was convicted in 1977 of murdering a woman in Bay City. He was sentenced to death, even though by today’s standards, his IQ of 67 is considered mentally impaired.

Three years after that conviction, in 1980, it was overturned because of problems with jury selection. The governor of Texas at the time, Mark White, commuted the sentence to life in prison. The problem? The underlying conviction has been invalidated, so there wasn’t even a conviction to commute. Hartfield waited for years in prison for a trial that never came.

Cody Duty/Houston Chronicle

From Texas Standard:

Sandra Bland’s case has made international headlines. But as the Houston Chronicle reported this week, Bland’s suicide is hardly a one-off incident in Texas county jails. Since 2009, 140 inmates in Texas jails have died by suicide; that’s when the state started tracking those numbers. Journalist Sinjin Smith has been following the issue for some time. His most recent article on this issue focuses on the methods and ways that inmates complete suicide in jail. He investigated the case of Danarian Hawkins, who was found last year hanging from a noose he’d made from a bed sheet tied to his cell’s sprinkler system.

Filipa Rodrigues for KUT

Eviction notices have gone out to 77 people who live at Austin's State Supported Living Center on 35th Street and MoPac. The state’s Sunset Advisory Commission has recommended closing the facility which opened in 1917 and services 28 counties in Central Texas.

All of the people who live at the center have serious developmental disabilities, and a handful have already moved out.

As the eviction notices come in, residents and their families are searching for new housing alternatives as the state prepares for a likely sale that could turn the 94-acre property into a mixed-use development. But some say the commission doesn’t have the final word in the facility’s closure, and promise to fight.

Todd Wiseman/Texas Tribune

Ben Johnson is combing through a list of names, addresses and mental health histories in the driver seat of a Jeep Compass. He works for Austin’s Mobile Crisis Outreach Team, MCOT, a branch of Austin Travis County Integral Care comprised of 18 licensed mental health counselors who respond to mental health crises across the county.

Johnson is deciding who to visit today. Another patient has paranoia. In addition, she's having problems at home, and is in danger of losing her housing. 

Liang Shi for KUT

Texas is spending more money on mental health now than it has in more than a decade, and today, state lawmakers got to hear about what that money is accomplishing.

Some of the numbers on mental health services in Texas have lawmakers patting themselves on the back.

Michael Stravato/Texas Tribune

The start of the next Texas legislative session is getting close enough that advocacy groups are urging support for their areas of interest. Today, a local organization released a report [click here for the PDF]  that suggests if the state spends more money on peer support groups in county jails, the recidivism rate would drop.

In recent years, law enforcement in Texas has been vocal about county jails serving as de facto mental health providers for inmates.

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