mental health

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Washington’s prison system has announced a major policy change when it comes to inmates who harm themselves. The Department of Corrections said Thursday that it will no longer sanction inmates for cutting or other acts of self-injury.

Transcript

DON GONYEA, HOST:

Oliver was anxious all the time. He demonstrated compulsive behavior, and he howled every time his parents left him alone at home. Oliver was a dog - a Bernese Mountain Dog.

But he, like many animals, displayed some amazingly human psychological traits. That was the inspiration for Laurel Braitman's new book. It's called "Animal Madness." It looks at the mental states and behaviors of animals and how they sometimes mirror our own. Laurel Braitman joins me now from KQED in San Francisco. Welcome.

State High Court Hears Pyschiatric Boarding Case

Jun 26, 2014
Taber Andrew Bain / Flickr

Parking mentally ill patients in the ER is controversial yet common. Now the state Supreme Court is considering whether that’s constitutional.

Update: Police in Oregon say 1 student was killed in this morning's school shooting. The gunman is also dead.

Northwest mental health experts are cautiously optimistic about a new federal grant program. But they call it a modest attempt to improve mental health care in rural areas.

In 2009, the state was sued by advocates representing children on Medicaid who have schizophrenia, depression and other mental illnesses. The advocates argued that the Department of Social and Health Services wasn’t providing sufficient home based services to help keep them stable.

This year in the Oregon legislature, there was a big push to dramatically boost funding for mental health programs. The effort was spurred on by mass shootings in Connecticut and Oregon. But mental health advocates say in the end, the legislature fell far short of the game-changer they hoped for.

Chris Lehman / Northwest News Network

The Oregon teenager accused of plotting an attack on his high school has obsessive-compulsive disorder brought on in a rare way: a strep infection. That's according to his mother. 

After last December’s mass shootings in Oregon and Connecticut, Democrats and Republicans in the Oregon legislature called for increased funding for mental health care. Now, there’s a proposal under discussion that would expand such programs in a big way, but it remains caught up in a debate over how to fund it. Salem Correspondent Chris Lehman spoke with one lawmaker for whom mental health care is a very personal issue.

  OLYMPIA, Wash. – Health care advocates are pushing Washington state lawmakers to keep up momentum toward expanding access to Medicaid. About 100 people rallied on the Capitol steps in Olympia Thursday. They argue one group that will especially benefit is people with mental illness.

John Ryan / Northwest News Network

The Tea Party has become a fixture in American politics. But the Sanka Party? Not so much. Other than an interest in hot beverages, the two activist groups have little in common. The Sanka Party got started last summer near Tacoma, Wash., in the unlikeliest of places: inside the walls of the state’s largest psychiatric institution.

SALEM, Ore. – One of the most influential state lawmakers in Salem wants Oregon to make what he calls a “game-changing” investment in community mental health services. Democratic Senate President Peter Courtney proposes a dedicated tax or fee to cover the expense.

According to the Oregon Health Authority, fewer than half of adults who need mental health treatment actually get it. The number is even lower for young people.

Shootings Push Mental Health Into Spotlight In Salem

Jan 23, 2013
Photo by Steve Morgan / Wikimedia Commons

Recent mass shootings in Oregon and Connecticut have thrust mental health issues into the spotlight. Some Oregon lawmakers and mental health advocates hope there's enough momentum to keep the conversation front and center. Unlike gun control, there is a consensus that appears to be emerging on funding mental health programs.

Little information is available yet to conclude whether the shooter in Newtown, Connecticut was diagnosed with or treated for mental illness. But last week’s incident has raised questions around the country about mental health--specifically, funding for mental health treatment and services. Ruby de Luna looks at how Washington’s mental health services have fared over the years.

Thomas Hawk / Flickr

  The Oregon Lottery spends millions of dollars a year to prevent gambling addiction. But some Oregon lawmakers say that effort has been ineffective. Now, a legislative committee may force the Lottery to hire someone to coordinate its anti-addiction efforts.

Photo by John Ryan / Northwest News Network

One Washington state senator says it is past time for lawmakers to increase safety at the state’s two psychiatric hospitals. Paige Browning reports Senator Mike Carrell announced he will propose legislation in the coming term.

A patient was found dead early Tuesday at a psychiatric hospital in eastern Washington, leading to the arrest of patient in the same unit. The woman in custody is suspected of murder.

Photo by John Ryan / Northwest News Network

Western State Hospital, near Tacoma, is the largest psychiatric institution in the Pacific Northwest. Its mission statement says the hospital--

Actor: "provides a healing environment free from danger, fear, hurt, injury, coercion, or intimidation for people with psychiatric disabilities. … Through vigilant attention and effort, WSH ensures a safe haven."

One week in April, Western failed to live up to those words, and the consequences were dire. Attention was less than vigilant, and two patients wound up dead. In part one of our public radio investigation, KUOW's John Ryan reported on the case of one of those patients. She committed suicide. In part two of our investigation, John looks at the safety improvements Western has, and hasn't, made since April.

Photo by Suzanne Kuhns

In the past decade, a dozen Western State Hospital patients have killed themselves. More than a hundred others have tried. Megan Templeton was the most recent. In April, she hanged herself in her hospital room. She had turned 20 the day before. Suicide is the second leading cause of death for teenagers and young adults in Washington.

Austin Jenkins / Northwest News Network

Washington Sen. Patty Murray has introduced legislation to overhaul the mental health system for war veterans. The move comes in the wake of a scandal at Washington’s Madigan Army Hospital. Doctors there incorrectly told dozens of soldiers they didn’t suffer from PTSD. One of those soldiers was Richard Kellar.

Western State Hospital CEO Resigns

Jun 14, 2012

The head of Washington's largest psychiatric hospital is stepping down. Western State Hospital CEO Jess Jamieson announced his resignation to hospital staff Tuesday. The announcement came as the Tacoma-area hospital deals with the aftermath of two patients' violent deaths in April. KUOW's John Ryan has the story.

Violence On The Rise At Western State Hospital

May 3, 2012

Three employees at Western State Hospital near Tacoma were attacked by a patient Wednesday morning. Officials say the three were taken to the emergency room but could not provide more details.

Western State Hospital is Washington's most violent workplace. 335 assaults were reported there in the past 12 months. That’s a slight increase from the year before but lower than prior years.

One nurse at Western told John Ryan what it's like to become a statistic.

US Senate

A scandal over PTSD diagnoses at Madigan Army Hospital has triggered an Army-wide Inspector General investigation. That’s according to the Secretary of the Army, John McHugh.

Photo credit: Austin Jenkins / Northwest News Network

OLYMPIA, Wash. – Last fall we brought you a series of stories on failures in how the Northwest treats mentally ill youth. Now, a landmark legal agreement announced Wednesday aims to bring about better treatment options for nearly 20,000 Washington kids. These are children who suffer from depression, schizophrenia and other mental illnesses.

Photo by: Chris Lehman / Northwest News Network

SALEM, Ore. – Oregon is putting the finishing touches on a gleaming new mental health hospital. The Salem facility replaces a crumbling 130-year-old building and is hailed as a new chapter in the state's troubled history of treating people judged guilty but insane. But there are far more mentally ill people in Oregon’s standard prisons. And the inmates with the most severe mental problems are housed in a ward designed for hardened criminals. Salem Correspondent Chris Lehman found that facility isn’t designed for treatment.

Photo by John Ryan / KUOW

SEATTLE, Wash. -- A bill aimed at improving the safety of workers in mental hospitals passed the Washington state senate on Monday. KUOW's John Ryan reports from Seattle.

Photo Source: Washington State Legislature

OLYMPIA, Wash. – “Talk therapy” may work in some cases. But a Washington state lawmaker says it’s time to invest in evidence-based programs to treat mentally ill youth. This past fall we brought you a series of stories on failures in how the Northwest treats young people with serious mental health issues. Correspondent Austin Jenkins has this update from Olympia.

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