mental health

Liang Shi for KUT News

Improving mental health practices for Texas and reducing the stigma associated with mental illness is the goal of a new statewide institute. Its focus will be on children, veterans and criminal justice policies.

The Meadows Mental Health Policy Institute opened its doors today. Tom Luce, its chief executive officer, says the nonprofit will do research to improve access to mental health care in Texas – and not just after emergencies like the recent Fort Hood shooting.

Phoebe Flanigan

With a vibrant live music scene, a bustling tech sector and a top-flight university, Austin seems like an oasis for young people.

However, the seemingly youthful Texas capital isn't wasted on the young. 

The Austin-Round Rock area has the fastest growing population of people between ages 55 and 64, and the third-fastest growing for those 65 and over, according to U.S. Census data. 

An organization called Power for Parkinson's is offering those affected by the disease a chance to step forward into an active, healthy life. 

Veronica Zaragovia, KUT News

Community health workers – or promotoras de salud – with the Latino Health Care Forum are collecting data about people still living in Dove Springs after the Halloween floods.

"We have heard a lot of really sad stories …you just start crying," says promotora Norma Lopez. “We’re going to be working on-hand with our people. Refer them to whatever they need, any kind of help.”

Promotoras say they spent about a month getting feedback from people who still need help, especially medical care. The results will identify Dove Springs families still in need.

Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon, KUT News

Donna Spencer and Iliana Gilman work with Austin Travis County Integral Care, the agency that provides mental health services for low-income residents in the area. They recently walked through the site of Integral Care’s soon-to-open $2.4 million facility, inside what used to be a Wal-Mart and a Sam’s Club.

It’s in the southeast Austin neighborhood of Dove Springs. This low-income, majority Latino neighborhood is getting its first mental health care facility. It’s in large part because of a federal initiative, the Medicaid 1115 waiver program, that funds experimental clinics like this one. It will offer mental health care and substance abuse treatment, along with routine primary care.

ocw.jhsph.edu/

Yesterday was Juneteenth, a holiday that celebrates progress and societal advancement of African-Americans in Texas. While there is plenty to celebrate, some advocates in Austin are still trying to promote mental health and overcome treatment barriers for African-Americans in Austin.

And, although African-Americans are just as likely to encounter mental health problems as the rest of the population, there are fewer options when it comes to seeking help.  

Liang Shi for KUT

More than 5 percent of the prison population in Texas is in solitary confinement, more than double the 2 percent national average. But one state senator says too little is known about the condition of these prisoners, especially those who may have been diagnosed with mental health or cognitive problems.

The Senate Criminal Justice Committee was considering the bill Wednesday afternoon.

Texas State Capitol
Erik Reyna, KUT News

A state lawmaker says Texas students are grappling with mental illness, but not all teachers, counselors and principals know how to recognize the signs. So the lawmaker, Sen. Bob Deuell, R-Greenville, is backing a mental health bill that he says would encourage educators in more than 1,100 school districts to get the necessary training.

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Texas is trying to help some Medicaid recipients with behavioral disorders improve their health. 

The state’s health department has embarked on a $10 million dollar project aimed at preventing people with mental health or substance abuse issues from developing chronic diseases.

Filipa Rodrigues for KUT News

Update: "The Punk Syndrome" won the SXGlobal Audience Award. See pictures from the Pertti Kurikan Nimipäivät concert, below.

Original Story  (March 15, 6:01 a.m.): A punk band from Finland is the focus of a film that’s showing at South by Southwest this week. The band is also playing a gig in the SXSW Music festival.

Marissa Barnett, KUT News

Advocates and lawmakers rallied at the Texas Capitol today to urge more state funding for mental health services.

Texas now ranks 49th in per capita spending for mental health care services. 

In the last session, the legislature made few changes to mental health funding. But as Texas’ population grows, the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) policy coordinator Greg Hansch says mental health spending also has to increase.

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A new report finds serious breakdowns in procedures and safeguards by state-run hospitals across Texas.

The year-long investigation was by Disability Rights Texas—an organization designated by federal law to protect people with disabilities.

The report is titled “Turning a Blind Eye" and is focused on systemic failures within the state agencies that Disability Rights Texas says dismissed patient safety.

KUT News

More than half of young people in Texas correctional facilities, 56 percent, have some diagnosed mental illness.

The latest figures were presented to lawmakers today. The mental illness rate compares with 39 percent in 2007.

Michael Griffiths, the new head of the state’s Juvenile Justice Department, says getting treatment for those youth is one of his top priorities.

ruthmcclendon.org

New attention could be coming to a bill filed by a State Representative out of San Antonio. Democrat Ruth Jones McClendon filed the bill in November but the topic is timely.

McClendon says House Bill 205 would increase the availability of mental health beds provided by the state.

She says, right now, Texas provides one pool of funding for beds for two main categories of people in need of mental health services: those unable to make sound decisions and those detained for mental evaluation after a crime.

States aren't likely to prevent many shootings by requiring mental health professionals to report potentially violent patients, psychiatrists and psychologists say.

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Today President Obama is expected to release details of proposals from a gun violence task force convened in the wake of the Sandy Hook shootings.

In the days following Sandy Hook, many experts and pundits spoke of the need for better mental health care and screening.

A new facility for older Austinites is scheduled to open soon in south Austin. It will serve those with memory impairments like Alzheimer’s or dementia. The “Silverado Senior Living” plans to house 90 people.  Right now, the only facilities like it are in Round Rock.  But, the needs of Austin’s elderly population continue to grow at a fast pace.

Silverado Senior Living is a private facility. Loren Shook is the company’s CEO.  He says “there are thousands of people within the city of Austin that are suffering from this disease [Alzheimer’s] and we are very confident there is sufficient resources in the market for people to afford our services ”

Photo by Erika Aguilar for KUT News.

The Austin Child Guidance Center celebrated its 60th anniversary this weekend with an open house at its 45th Street location. The Center has help treat 130,000 Austin children with mental health issues. This year may be one of the most challenging for the Center. Executive Director Russell Smith says 84 percent of the children that come to the Center live at 200 percent the federal poverty level or below. Most can qualify for some type of state health program such as CHIP or Medicaid.

Photo by Maʝicdölphin http://www.flickr.com/photos/majicdolphin/

Mass killings dominated the media this weekend with a string of shootings in the United States following just hours after a murderous rampage in Oslo. Some of the violence since Friday included:

A local psychotherapist says the deluge of grim news can be a trigger for people already trying to cope with grief. For those with a history of trauma, mental illness or personal losses, it can actually be harmful, according to two local experts.

Stress
Image courtesy http://flickr.com/BLW Photography

People have a lot going on this time of year. Party planning, family and friends in town, plus thinking about work next year and meeting those New Year’s resolutions.

For some, all of this can be too much. Michelle Magid calls it the holiday blues. She’s a psychiatrist at Seton Shoal Creek Hospital and an assistant professor at UT Southwestern in Dallas.

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