Mental Illness | St. Louis Public Radio

Mental Illness

The coronavirus outbreak has changed how mental health professionals are serving their patients.
Nat Thomas | St. Louis Public Radio

Many of psychotherapist Carol Robinson’s clients were doing well in early March, when COVID-19 was more of a distant concern than a reality. But now that their everyday lives are upside down, many are struggling.

Stay-at-home orders have turned parents into teachers and homes into offices. People whose work takes them into health care facilities and busy stores risk infection every day. Families are apart during birthdays, births and deaths. Robinson is starting to see the mental health of even well-functioning clients unravel. Their emotions run the gamut.

Steve Rhodes | Flickr

After the mass shooting at a high school in Parkland, Florida, that left 17 people dead last year, President Donald Trump linked the prevalence of gun violence to mental illness. That sentiment came up again after recent shootings in Dayton, Ohio, and El Paso, Texas. 

Matt Palozola greets friends at a fundraiser for the Zola Initiative, a nonprofit he started in honor of his brother. Dec. 15, 2017
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

When Tom Palozola arrived at Webster University after serving in the U.S. Marine Corps, he struggled to fit in with his younger classmates. But he found solace in in the Student Veterans Organization.

As its president, Palozola worked tirelessly to acquire a grant to open a campus veterans center. He envisioned it as a refuge for veterans who also felt like campus outsiders.  

Palozola had suffered a traumatic brain injury when a roadside bomb exploded in Afghanistan. He struggled with post-traumatic stress disorder and died by suicide last May.

Susannah Lohr | St. Louis Public Radio

Mental illness is real in the African-American community and needs to be talked about.

That was the message of the final panel at the National Urban League conference, which wrapped up in St. Louis on Saturday. All three speakers were celebrity women of color who had had their own struggles with mental illness.

Trenda Davis is a member of the Independence Center's clubhouse.
Kim Oswalt | St. Louis Public Radio

At the clubhouse, there are no clients or patients – only members. In an alternative to traditional models of social work, people with mental illnesses come to the Independence Center’s clubhouse to participate in a program structured around the idea of a “work-ordered day.”

Trenda Davis is an Independence Center member who said she found stability and support when she joined the clubhouse after losing her job two years ago.

WordShore | Flickr |

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.

Missouri looks to improve access to mental health care

Feb 13, 2016
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.

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.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Aug. 2, 2012 - One of the things I remember from my undergraduate psyche courses is that “insanity” is a legal term and “psychiatry” is a medical discipline. Doctors can thus describe an individual’s mental condition in clinical terms, but it’s up to a judge or jury to determine whether that person is insane.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, May 5, 2011 - When he was a kid, Bryan Evans used to feel shame because his father was schizophrenic.

"I wasn't comfortable with it. I internalized the shame because everybody in the neighborhood knew who my father was," said Evans, who now directs suicide education for Mental Health America of Eastern Missouri.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, April 11, 2011 - Alice Curran of St. Louis used to dread Thanksgiving. Every year, she planned the meal for her extended family under a cloud of worry: Would her husband, Steve, show up at the table or would she have to make an excuse -- again -- for his sleeping through the entire holiday?

"I was like, 'What's wrong with him? This isn't fair,'" Curran said.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, March 15, 2011 - Arlen Chaleff grew up in comfortable Clayton "in a class that was part of the American dream," the daughter of a father who made money in the garment industry as a dress manufacturer. Justin Idleburg's upbringing was more on the edge. He was born into a working-class St. Louis family where money and tempers were short, and children learned early that self-reliance was the key to survival.

Commentary: Recipe for slaughter

Jan 20, 2011

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Jan. 20, 2011 - It usually pays to learn the facts before formulating a firm opinion about them. In the wake of our most recent mass shooting atrocity, Pima County Sheriff Clarence Dupnik blamed vitriolic radio and television talk show hosts for creating a climate conducive to extremist violence. As most of the accused hail from the right-wing of American politics, his commentary was immediately embraced by liberals from sea to shining sea.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Jan. 13, 2011 - If someone had been kicked out of college in Missouri and Illinois and told not to return without a clean bill of mental health, or had been rejected by the Army after failing a drug test, would he, or she, be allowed to buy a firearm?

The answer is: Probably yes, not because of any evaluation of his fitness but because that background is not the type likely to come to the attention of officials in charge of deciding whether someone should have a gun.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Oct. 29, 2010 - More than a decade of sleeping in cars and abandoned houses while working as a stripper and a prostitute made Natisha Parker's every waking moment a never-ending nightmare.

By the time she was diagnosed with bipolar disorder in 2008, Parker, 32, had endured a childhood with sexual molestation. Thirteen of her adult years were consumed by crack cocaine addiction, heavy drinking and dabbling in ecstasy, mushrooms, crystal meth and heroin.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Oct. 27, 2010 - Trauma first struck Peggy Webb at 3 years old when a family drive ended with a head-on collision into a Mack truck. Jolted awake in the backseat, she saw her father decapitated and her mother's legs cut off, an injury complicated by gangrene that would kill her a short time later.

Commentary: When prisoners are mentally ill

Sep 27, 2009

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Sept. 27, 2009 - Michael Randle got it right. Prodded by inmate advocates and probing journalists, the state's new prisons chief acknowledged substantial mental health issues among more than a fifth of the nearly 240 convicts at the Super Max, a Dantean penitentiary planted in the secluded woods of deep southern Illinois to isolate the most incorrigible of the incarcerated.