Mental illness

In light of John Hinckley Jr.'s release from a psychiatric hospital 35 years after attempting to assassinate President Ronald Reagan, Shots is exploring the use of the not guilty by reason of insanity plea. We're talking with legal and medical professionals about how the plea works, and how it doesn't work. In this fourth of a four-part series, we look at what happens to defendants when a state has no insanity defense.

In light of John Hinckley Jr.'s release from a psychiatric hospital 35 years after attempting to assassinate President Ronald Reagan, Shots is exploring the use of the not guilty by reason of insanity plea. We're talking with legal and medical professionals about how the plea works, and how it doesn't work. In this second of a four-part series, we look at how juries respond to insanity defenses.

At the center of Geel, a charming Belgian town less than an hour's drive from of Antwerp, is a church dedicated to Dymphna, a saint believed to have the power to cure mental disorders. It's a medieval church with stone arches, spires and a half-built bell tower, and it has inspired an unusual centuries-old practice: For over 700 years, residents of Geel have been accepting people with mental disorders, often very severe mental disorders, into their homes and caring for them.

Rachel Star Withers runs a YouTube channel where she performs goofy stunts on camera and talks about her schizophrenia.

Since 2008, when the then 22-year-old revealed her diagnosis online, tens of thousands of people have seen her videos. Some of them have a psychotic disorder or mood disorders themselves, or know people who do.

Washington is unlikely to meet a January deadline to provide jail inmates with court-ordered mental health services within seven days.

Photo courtesy of Tiffany Ferrians

Amid the arts and crafts and concerts of Hempfest in Seattle this weekend, there will be one group of people delivering a somber message. Friends and family of Keaton Farris, the young man who died of dehydration and malnutrition in an Island County jail earlier this year, will hand out water bottles with his picture on the label as a way to raise awareness about the disturbing circumstances of his death.

Pablo Martinez Monsivais / AP Photo

In a candid address to a group of downtown business leaders, Seattle Mayor Ed Murray spoke about the city’s struggles with rising homelessness and a lack of treatment options for people with mental illness. Murray urged all of them to lobby state and federal lawmakers for more funding. 

Cacophony / Wikimedia Commons

The practice of "boarding" mental health patients in hospital emergency rooms is unlawful, the Washington Supreme Court ruled unanimously Thursday.

The justices upheld a lower court ruling in the case of 10 psychiatric patients who were involuntarily detained under state law, then placed in non-psychiatric beds.

Paula Wissel

Last weekend’s random killing of Shoreline Community College English Professor Troy Wolff in Pioneer Square has prompted Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn to call for more money to be spent on mental health resources, including a possible tax dedicated to mental health.

Donnell Jackson has been charged with first-degree murder and attempted first-degree murder in the stabbing of Wolff and Kristin Ito, who survived the attack.

Exactly one year has passed since an angry and unstable man killed four people at Seattle’s Café Racer and one more woman near downtown before shooting himself. Ian Stawicki was never diagnosed with a mental illness, but he exhibited many of the signs.

When someone is in a mental health crisis, who decides if the or she gets hospitalized involuntarily?

Elaine Thompson / Associated Press

For Walt Stawicki, the past year has been one of grieving and what-ifs. Exactly one year ago, his 40-year-old son Ian Stawicki, killed himself in West Seattle after fatally shooting five people, including four at Café Racer.

Stawicki is pleased the Legislature passed a law making it easier to commit someone involuntarily for psychiatric care. He says he and his wife struggled to find the right care for their son, especially after they took a trip and noticed their son had deteriorated.  

State’s mental health reform focuses on preventive care

Mar 29, 2013
Alexandra Kocik / Northwest News Network

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.

Inside the Capitol, that’s one of many issues related to the mentally-ill. Several measures focus on broadening access to community mental health services as opposed to big institutions. The idea is to get help for mentally-ill people before they get into trouble.

Gun control proposals are having trouble getting majority support in the state legislature. But when it comes to people in a mental health emergency – who may pose a threat to themselves or others -- lawmakers appear more united.

They unanimously approved several measures late Monday aimed at making it easier to hold someone involuntarily.

They have the support of family members who’ve had to deal with a loved one who’s out of control.

dearshirnk.com

The school shootings in Connecticut have an extra layer of sadness for parents whose children are mentally ill.

In fact, Washington’s and America's main advocacy group for the mentally ill -- the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) -- was organized by a Seattle mother back in the 1970s, after her son, filled with schizophrenic delusions, shot and killed a man. 

Keith Seinfeld / KPLU

If you’ve been to downtown Seattle, you’ve probably seen people talking to themselves on street corners, or shouting at strangers. Now there’s a fresh face trying to help those in psychiatric crisis.

He’s a roaming mental health counselor, hired by the Union Gospel Mission and downtown’s business-funded Metropolitan Improvement District.

renjith krishnan / freedigitalphotos.net

In the wake of the recent murder spree at Café Racer, there have been questions about how to get help for someone whose mental health is deteriorating. Social service agencies are filling part of the gap, by training volunteers to provide what they call "mental health first aid."

The idea comes by comparison to CPR – a type of first aid any of us can learn. The mental health version is a 12-hour course for anyone who wants to be better equipped to help someone in a mental health crisis.

If you live anywhere in the Puget Sound region you probably pay a small sales tax to support mental health services. The main exception is in Pierce County.

That may change, at least within Tacoma city limits.

A proposal in front of the Tacoma City Council would raise the sales tax by 1/10th of a percent, or a penny per $10 purchase. That’s the same as residents pay in King, Snohomish, Thurston and many other counties. The revenue would be dedicated to a broad array of services to assist people with serious mental illness or drug abuse problems.

A Washington State University researcher says new findings about the emotions of rats could lead to treatments for mental illness in humans. Jaak Panksepp writes in the latest issue of the journal, Science.

He was reacting to a new study showing that rats demonstrate empathy and altruism toward a fellow rat who was stuck in a trap.