Mental Health | St. Louis Public Radio

Mental Health

Carla has started taking classes, hoping to make her children proud by becoming fluent in English over the next few years. St. Louis Public Radio has changed Carla’s name because she is an unauthorized immigrant. May 2017.
Jenny Simeone-Cases | St. Louis Public Radio

Insurance coverage, transportation, child care and work schedules can all stand in the way of a person’s access to mental health services.

For some St. Louis residents, language is the biggest obstacle, because only a handful of organizations in the region offer services in languages other than English — and demand is growing.

Drive down a dirt road in Dallas County, under a thick canopy of walnut trees and over three cattle guards, and you’ll come to Rachel Harrison’s home in Windyville, Missouri.  

A few years ago, Harrison was using her Bachelor’s degree in biology in a hospital laboratory.

“I was a generalist, which means I was in charge of urinalysis, chemistry, special chemistry, hematology, blood banking, coagulation, I think I got it all—phlebotomy, all that kind of stuff,” Harrison said.

But at age 25, she began to hear what sounded like people talking.

Dr. Stuart Slavin, associate dean for curriculum at Saint Louis University's School of Medicine, in his office.
File photo | Durrie Bouscaren | St. Louis Public Radio

Saint Louis University’s School of Medicine is removing an administrator who drew national attention for his work to prevent student depression and suicide. The decision comes as the school faces probation by the accrediting body for U.S. medical schools, which gave SLU two years to make recommended changes.

Administrators notified students and staff this week that Dr. Stuart Slavin, the associate dean of curriculum, would be placed on sabbatical “so that he can transition to the next phase of his career.”

As the outreach counselor for Battle High School in Columbia, Missouri. Dana Harris’s job is connecting students with services when they have mental and emotional troubles such as ADHD, anxiety or depression.

SIUE psychology professor Stephen Hupp lets a class of preschoolers at the Jackie Joyner-Kersee Center in East St. Louis touch a robot named Mo after a lesson on human emotions in March 2017.
Eli Chen | St. Louis Public Radio

One morning at the Jackie Joyner-Kersee Center in East St. Louis, an unusual guest arrived to greet more than a dozen preschoolers, who gathered on a ketchup-colored mat, surrounded by cubby shelves, Clifford books and crayon drawings.

The visitor, a white robot with blue patches of armor on its head and joints, stood about 2 feet tall. It had arms and legs, like a person, but its plastic face had no expression.

Residents of Pacific looked out at their flooded-out town in early January.
Carolina Hidalgo I St. Louis Public Radio

Walter Wolfner was not prepared for the impact that last year's heavy rains would have on his business, the Riverside Golf Club in Fenton. 

"The velocity of the water was so great that it picked up sand from the Meramec River and deposited it on the golf course," Wolfner said "I mean, we'd never seen things like that before." 

While he managed to clear off all the debris from the golf course, which is adjacent to the river, it took three months to rebuild the clubhouse, which had to be completely gutted and rewired. 

The state of Missouri estimated that more than 7,000 structures were damaged by last winter's heavy rains. Like Wolfner, cities and many residents along the Meramec, Missouri and Mississippi rivers have been trying to recover and rebuild. 

In the study he led, Washington University researcher Darrell Hudson found the men in his focus groups were more than willing to discuss their experiences with racism and issues related to mental health.
Susannah Lohr | St. Louis Public Radio

About a dozen of Missouri’s mental health clinics will receive an infusion of federal money in 2017, after the state was one of eight selected to be part of a national demonstration project.

The clinics will be required to collect and report quality data and meet a set of criteria, which will determine how much money they receive. It’s part of a $1.1 billion measure to improve the quality of mental health and addiction services. The law that created the program, the Excellent in Mental Health Act, was introduced by U.S. Sens. Roy Blunt, R-Mo, and Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., in 2013.

Kevin Dietl, left, poses with his mother in a family photograph.
Durrie Bouscaren | St. Louis Public Radio

Legislators are making another attempt to prevent suicide among students in Missouri colleges and medical schools.

State Sen. Jamilah Nasheed, D-St. Louis, pre-filed Senate Bill 52, which would require colleges and universities to develop suicide prevention policies. It also would create a statewide research committee to prevent depression among medical students, and forbid medical schools from preventing student-led efforts to study mental health issues among their peers.

“It’s really not a controversial bill. It’s an awareness bill,” said Sen. Jamilah Nasheed, D-St. Louis. “We have to begin to look at what’s happening on those college campuses, and try to have preventative measures in place before they get to that point of no return.”

Kevin Dietl, left, poses with his mother in a family photograph.
Durrie Bouscaren | St. Louis Public Radio

John Dietl knew that his son, Kevin, was experiencing depression. He pleaded with him to get help.

"He did. But he said under one condition; we’ve got to pay cash, and 'I’ve got to go out of town,'" Dietl recalled recently, as he sat at his kitchen table with his wife in Chesterfield. "[He said] 'I can’t let anybody know I’m struggling with this, because it’ll be detrimental to my career.''"

Kevin Dietl, a bright medical student with brown eyes and a passion for water sports, took his life last year, just weeks before he would have graduated from A.T. Still University’s College of Osteopathic Medicine in Kirksville. He was 26.

During a training for new volunteers, Provident clinician Adrianne Martin (standing) leads an exercise in active listening.
Durrie Bouscaren | St. Louis Public Radio

A St. Louis-based crisis hotline is preparing to receive nearly twice as many calls as usual after being selected to serve as a backup center for the national network.

 

In October, Provident will be one of 10 call centers around the country taking calls from the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline when local crisis lines are overwhelmed. They’re expecting 150 to 200 calls a day from all over the country.

Members of "The Palpations," a band started by second-year medical students, try to fix a broken guitar string during practice.
Durrie Bouscaren | St. Louis Public Radio

During her first year of medical school, Katherine Hu struggled with the feeling that she didn’t measure up.

“You end up becoming, actually, pretty cynical. I’d be sitting in class, the professor’s speaking a million miles an hour, and I don’t know what’s going on,” Hu said. “It just becomes heavier and heavier … kind of hopeless sometimes.” 

Dr. Joan Luby and Stephen Zwolak discussed how to help a child dealing with mental health issues.
Kelly Moffitt | St. Louis Public Radio

On Tuesday’s St. Louis on the Air, we discussed the mental health issues facing young children and how to address them. Joining the program were Joan Luby, a doctor and professor of child psychiatry with the Washington University School of Medicine and Stephen Zwolak, the executive director the University City Children’s Center.

WordShore | Flickr | http://bit.ly/25eleL4

Even in 2016, talking about mental health is hard to do. There’s a persistent stigma about mental illness and it is hard to know when and what to say or do. What steps are being made to reduce the stigma? What are the signs of mental illness? What resources are available for those who deal with mental illness in their day-to-day lives?

On Wednesday’s St. Louis on the Air, host Don Marsh discussed these questions with representatives from the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) St. Louis.

In the study he led, Washington University researcher Darrell Hudson found the men in his focus groups were more than willing to discuss their experiences with racism and issues related to mental health.
Susannah Lohr | St. Louis Public Radio

New insight from a Washington University study could improve access to mental health care for African-American men. 

Michael Velardo | Flickr

The country’s broadening crisis of heroin and pain pill overdoses comes at a time when many centers for addiction treatment in the United States are operating at capacity. In the St. Louis region, providers report wait times of three weeks or more. A spike in addictions means more people seeking treatment, but at the same time, providers are constricted in their ability to expand.

Kelly Moffitt | St. Louis Public Radio

For some children in the St. Louis area, traumatic stress is an unavoidable part of growing up. Chronic poverty, racism and discrimination, experienced over time, contribute to children’s stress levels, which have an adverse impact on the way they grow up and contribute to their community.

Steven S. | Flickr | http://bit.ly/1Qo19ck

Earlier this year, the work of Dr. Stuart Slavin, a pediatrician and associate dean for curriculum at Saint Louis University School of Medicine, was featured in a New York Times opinion piece on the stress of students today. Slavin found through an anonymous study at a high school in California that 54 percent of students showed moderate to severe symptoms of depression.

An illustration of what it feels like to experience schizophrenia.
Susannah Lohr | St. Louis Public Radio

Missouri could be one of the first states in the nation to test a new mental health care program designed to expand access to treatment.

The pilot program was created by the Excellence in Mental Health Care Act, co-sponsored by U.S. Senator Roy Blunt (R-Mo) and signed into law in 2014 as part of a broader Medicare reform measure. It sets quality standards for community mental health centers in participating states and more fully funds treatment for Medicaid patients.

Director Desarie Holmes cuts a ribbon to mark the opening of Behavioral Health Services at Touchette Regional Hospital in Centreville.
Durrie Bouscaren | St. Louis Public Radio

As officials at Touchette Regional Hospital cut a bright red ribbon on Tuesday for the opening of a new behavioral health center, another Metro East hospital made preparations to close its own division for the same type of care. 

About 2 percent of children in the U.S. experience at least one episode of depression before reaching puberty.
Susannah Lohr | St. Louis Public Radio

Depression very early in life can affect the way a child’s brain develops.

A new study by researchers at Washington University is the first to link early childhood depression to physical changes in the developing brain.

Ryan Melaugh | Flickr, Creative Commons | http://bit.ly/1ISisnU

The bustle of office parties, gift-giving and family get-togethers are usually part of the build-up to a joyful holiday season but, for some, the season sometimes brings with it a feeling of sadness. In fact, the holiday blues are not all that uncommon at all.

Tim Bono, assistant dean and lecturer in psychology at Washington University, joined “St. Louis on the Air” on Wednesday to discuss these feelings of depression during the holidays—as well as what to do if you know someone who seems a bit more down during this time of year. 

Turkeys are basted, stuffing is stuffed, the green bean casserole is in the oven—Thanksgiving is just around the corner. There’s just one more thing to consider: How should you handle difficult and oftentimes divisive subject matter that comes up at the Thanksgiving dinner table?

Public health emergencies can range from weather-related emergencies to disease outbreaks to civil unrest.
Robert Boston | Washington University

The St. Louis region faces a wide range of potential public health crises, including natural disasters like tornados and floods, infectious disease epidemics and civil unrest.

Our ability to respond to such emergencies will be the focus of a conference on Thursday hosted annually by Washington University’s Institute for Public Health.

Amonderez Green (top right) with his mother, Lakea Green, and his younger siblings.
provided by the Green family.

The family of an 18-year-old who died of a gunshot wound to the face last week in Normandy after exchanging gunfire with a police officer is disputing police accounts that he was suicidal.

According to St. Louis County Police, Amonderez Green exchanged gunfire with a Normandy officer Wednesday, after officers from both the Normandy and Ferguson police departments responded to a call for crisis intervention. Police say family members called police for help. A police report released Thursday said the only bullet to hit Green appeared to be self-inflicted.

But members of Green’s family say that’s not the actions of the Amonderez they know. 

An illustration of what it feels like to experience schizophrenia.
Susannah Lohr | St. Louis Public Radio

About 80 people, clustered around tables, bent their heads and waited for the voices to start.

“Don’t answer,” a woman’s voice warned as a phone rang. “They’ll know who you are.”

A line of police face off with protesters on West Florissant Ave., last Sunday night.
Durrie Bouscaren | St. Louis Public Radio

Fearing for your safety or that of your family; witnessing violence; and the repeated, chronic stress of a traumatic event’s aftermath can all leave mental and emotional scars. Mental health professionals caution that last year's events in Ferguson have likely placed people at risk for developing Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, or PTSD.

With the hopes that they can help people work through their trauma, researchers from the University of Missouri-St. Louis are trying measure the scope of PTSD in the region, triggered by the Ferguson protests.

On a recent Saturday, Irma Moore and her daughters BreaDora, 11, Lydia, 6, Laura, 4 and Elizabeth, 7 months, visited a longtime Ferguson staple for ice cream cones.
Durrie Bouscaren | St. Louis Public Radio

The first time I met the Moore family, it was in the middle of the night.

On August 17, 2014, protests in Ferguson took a violent turn. After reports of a shooting, police forced demonstrators to disperse with tear gas and rubber bullets. In her suburban home just a few blocks away, Irma Moore and her five children were huddled together on the couch, watching the events on television.

Updated at 10:45 pm to correct spelling of psychiatric in headline.

A proposed outpatient psychiatric treatment facility for uninsured adolescents and children will get an additional $2 million in federal funding.

The city agency that oversees the distribution of federal Community Development Block Grant dollars plans to re-distribute about $7 million in unspent funds from prior years. Some of the leftover money dates back to 2008. Block grants run on a Jan. 1 through Dec. 31 schedule.

Wreath of Sanity by Eileen Cheong, art therapist
Nancy Fowler

One out of every four people will experience mental illness in any given year. And 100 percent of them can be artists, according to an exhibit at UMSL’s Gallery 210.

Photo of police car
Jason Rojas | Flickr

Do police do enough to de-escalate encounters with people who may be mentally ill? Why do police use guns against a person with possible mental health issues who is armed with only a knife?

These are questions that seem to crop up after any incident in which police use deadly force against someone who seems to suffer from mental health issues. They arose last week after the fatal police shooting of a man with a history of mental illness in Jennings, and after the death of Kajieme Powell last year in St. Louis.

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