News & Information

The Hilarious World of Depression • July 8, 2019- Taking a trip somewhere new can be wonderful: the new experiences, the exciting culture, the unusual foods. For people who deal with depression or anxiety, travel can also introduce a variety of problems. It necessarily involves getting out of the familiar and that can leave one feeling isolated, worried about negative possibilities, and unprotected in a world that sometimes doesn't work out all that great as it is. In this summer mini-sode, we hear from Jeremy Pelletier, a non-profit director and geographer who recently wrote about the pitfalls and triumphs he's experienced traveling. We also check in with Dr. Karriem Salaam from Drexel University's College of Medicine for valuable tips on what to do and not to do.

Alisa Roth • July 5, 2019 - The reports coming out of detention facilities where children are being held on the southern border are spurring protests in Minnesota and many other parts of the country. 

The revelations include: children who haven't been able to bathe or change their clothes since crossing the border days or weeks earlier, not enough food, 1-year-old and 17-year-old children getting the same rations, no fruits or vegetables or milk, outbreaks of flu and lice infestation and no soap available for washing.

But the risk to the children goes beyond their physical health, said Katie Lingras, a child psychologist and an assistant professor in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at the University of Minnesota. Separating children from their parents or caregiver can have real effects on mental health, she said.

Dan Kraker • Gooseberry Falls State Park • July 1, 2019 - One of the best places to see just how popular some Minnesota state parks have become is Gooseberry Falls State Park, along the North Shore of Lake Superior, where the Gooseberry River cascades over a series of dramatic drops just a short walk from the highway. More than 750,000 people visited the park last year alone. 

All those people seeking out Mother Nature create some challenges at Gooseberry, said park manager Audrey Butts. The parking lot fills up quickly on busy days.  And, solitude can be hard to come by.

"People are starting to view the outdoors as a means to get away from all the demands of everyday life," said DNR visitor services and outreach manager Rachel Hopper. "It's also a good way to spend time with loved ones."

But, it's not just about filling up state park campgrounds, officials say. The focus is also motivated by a growing body of research that shows getting outside is really good for you. Especially for kids.   

Jacki Lyden · NPR · Jun 28, 2019 - Mental illness is a force field that enacts, on each person in its grip, an altered reality that is either seductive or oppressive, but always inescapable. It often leaves families, or in clearer moments, the individual, to wonder about why — the great why — they're tuned differently. I myself wonder about the wellspring of my mental illness, my mother's mental illness, my brother's, father's, friends', husband's, about how it is that the brain's compass spins. Mental illness is experienced by one in five Americans in any given year, according to the National Alliance for the Mentally Ill.

Here come three lovely debut memoirs which are also detective stories, each in a unique and searching voice, trying to trace the brain's map and trace either the author's own or a family member's mental illness.

Chris Farrell , Julie Siple · Jun 28, 2019 - As adults, we spend a huge part of our waking hours working. Business experts say finding purpose at work may increase job satisfaction and productivity. And, a growing body research suggests having a strong life purpose is good for your physical and mental health - and may even decrease your risk of dying early. Now, with a low unemployment rate and another cohort of college graduates heading out into the world, MPR's Chris Farrell spoke with two guests who have been writing and thinking for decades about how to find meaning in work.


Richard Leider— Founder of Inventure - The Purpose Company, a coaching and consulting firm

Barbara Hoese— President of Pentecore Coaching, a leadership coaching and development firm

Alisa Roth · Jun 27, 2019 - Earlier this year, Argosy University shut its doors, leaving dozens of students with no place to finish their degrees. Now Augsburg University is hoping to get approval for a new doctoral psychology program that would let those students finish their degrees. The goal is basically to create a situation that allows the Argosy students to pick up where they left off.

Alisa Roth · St. Paul · Jun 25, 2019 - It's one of the first days of residency at the University of Minnesota and the new medical residents are sitting around tables in a big room in the university alumni center. Dr. Kaz Nelson, a professor of psychiatry, takes the stage. She's here to talk about mental health and suicide. But the patients she's talking about are the doctors themselves.

"I remember a time when I was worried about the health and safety of a colleague in medicine," she said, starting a prompt for the doctors to complete.

Nelson went on to talk about hearing that a recently graduated medical student had killed herself. Then she asked the new doctors to discuss their own examples of concern over the well-being of a colleague.

It's part of an effort by the university to bring mental health into the foreground. Every year, between 300 and 400 doctors kill themselves — about one a day. That's about twice the rate of the general population and the highest of any profession. Doctors also have high rates of burnout, depression and substance use.

Kirsti Marohn · Walker, Minn. · Jun 18, 2019 - The commissioner of the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources told a group of lake advocates on Tuesday that it's her personal mission to connect more people with the outdoors. Sarah Strommen spoke at the "Water Connects Us All" conference in Walker, Minn., organized by the nonprofit Minnesota Lakes and Rivers Advocates. The two-day conference focused on challenges facing the state's natural resources, including climate change, aquatic invasive species and threats to water quality, as well as possible solutions.

Strommen said people's connection to nature is critical for the long-term protection of the state's natural resources, its economy and residents' well-being. Strommen also said there's a wealth of research showing the mental and physical health benefits of spending time in nature. Even just a few minutes a day spent in an urban park can lower stress and anxiety levels, she said.

Alisa Roth · St. Paul · Jun 17, 2019 - UnitedHealth Group is rejecting some demands of the plaintiffs in a class-action lawsuit accusing the company of being too stingy in its coverage of mental health care. Earlier this year, a judge in California ruled in favor of the patients who filed a class-action lawsuit, saying the company put profits over patients.

The plaintiffs had asked for the company to adopt new guidelines for how it covers behavioral health and to use them to reevaluate all of the claims it denied between 2011 and 2017.

In the company's legal response, UnitedHealth said it's already adopted new standards for how it covers substance use disorders and that new coverage guidelines for mental health care will go into effect in 2020. But the company is fighting the retroactive claims review.

Briana Bierschbach · Prior Lake · Jun 17, 2019 - Parker Barnes was recovering from strep throat a couple of years ago when, almost overnight, his body launched an attack on his brain. The otherwise happy and healthy 10-year-old boy was suddenly prone to bouts of rage. He experienced hallucinations and seizures, and he developed a throat-clearing tic and obsessive compulsive tendencies that he'd never shown before.

"It's 'Nightmare on Elm Street' stuff, it's 'Wes Craven' stuff," said Parker's dad, Brian. "It's like, how does someone I know so well suddenly become this?"

Then one day, Parker's younger brother found him in the upstairs bathroom clutching a kitchen knife, threatening to kill himself. He was taken to an inpatient psychiatric facility and evaluated by a psychiatrist. That's when a medical professional mentioned PANDAS for the first time. It's short for pediatric autoimmune neuropsychiatric disorders associated with streptococcal infections, a little-known diagnosis that could be more common than medical professionals realized. The diagnosis was a relief, but it was just the beginning of years of expensive treatment and battles with insurance companies to get it covered.

Vaughn Ormseth · Jun 17, 2019 - On a frigid January Saturday in 2017, friends Mary Beth Thesing and Susan Kimball joined hundreds of others at Lourdes High School auditorium in Rochester, ready to lift their voices for Bring the Sing, the traveling community choral events Classical MPR takes around the region.

When I saw Mary Beth and Susan yet again this winter for Bring the Sing's return to Rochester, I asked them what kept them coming back. "Singing with others blends body and mind and spirit in a way that can change lives," Susan said without hesitation. Mary Beth was likewise to the point. "Community singing is vitally important to my well-being," she said. Susan then continued with some personal news related to a choral work that has become something of a Bring the Sing anthem.

Since I'd seen her last, her son had died. "A few months after the Decorah sing, we held a celebration of life ceremony for him and sang Draw the Circle Wide as part of it, as we had in Decorah."

Hearing Susan's and Mary Beth's stories reaffirmed that communal singing, like all variations on the arts in this culture-rich state, is not merely a "nice to have" — it deepens our connections with each other and our communities at a time when those ties are fraying. For some, it's a return to an old friend; for others, a lifeline.

Alisa Roth · Jun 13, 2019 - The first time Dawn Peel tried to get help in the mental health clinic at the Minnesota's women's prison in Shakopee, she brought a stack of papers 8 inches thick, she said. They were records documenting more than 150 appointments she'd had with her psychologist before she went to prison.

"I would like to get some help," she recalled telling the clinician. "And he looked at me and my stack of you know, 8-inch deep pile of medical records and he said, 'We don't have the staff to help you.' And I looked at him and I said, 'What?'"

People in jails and prisons are much more likely than the general public to have a mental illness, and the prevalence among incarcerated women is especially high. Minnesota's corrections commissioner, Paul Schnell, has said dealing with mental illness in the system is a priority for the new administration. But, formerly and currently incarcerated women in Minnesota say they don't get the care they need.

MPR News Staff · Jun 13, 2019 - MPR's Tom Crann hosted an event in Rochester, Minn., this spring with three experts who explore the impact of childhood trauma on mental health and suggest ways to build resilience in children. Panelists:

Anne Gearity is a licensed independent clinical social worker, who treats children, adolescents and adults. She is a leading trainer, consultant and educator on the issue of childhood trauma as a clinical faculty member in the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Minnesota.

Resmaa Menakem is a national expert on cultural trauma. He is a licensed independent clinical social worker and founder of Justice Leadership Solutions in Minneapolis. He's also the author of "My Grandmother's Hands: Racialized Trauma and the Pathway to Mending Our Hearts and Bodies."

Denise Moody is assistant director of student services at Rochester Public Schools, and an adjunct faculty member at Winona State University teaching social work. She is also a Licensed Independent Clinical Social Worker and founder of Resilience Impact, a resource for creating trauma-informed schools.

Kaiser Health News · Graison Dangor · Jun 7, 2019 - Amanda Bacon's eating disorder was growing worse. She had lost 60 percent of her body weight and was consuming only about 100 calories a day. But, that wasn't sick enough for her Medicaid managed-care company to cover an inpatient treatment program. She was told in 2017 that unless she weighed 10 pounds less — which would have put her at 5-foot-7 and 90 pounds — or was admitted to a psychiatric unit, she wasn't eligible for coverage.

Many patients, like Bacon, struggle to get insurance coverage for their mental health treatment, even though two federal laws were designed to bring parity between mental and physical health care coverage. Recent studies and a legal case suggest serious disparities remain.

The Thread · Euan Kerr · Jun 6, 2019 - Writer David Sedaris will read from his latest collection of work in Duluth Thursday night. The essays in the book "Calypso" are funny at times and deeply sad at others as Sedaris wrestles with life.

Trilloquy · Garrett McQueen, Scott Blankenship · Jun 6, 2019 - In Opus 3 of Trilloquy, Garrett and Scott talk about their relationships with mental health awareness and how working in radio can have a huge impact on it. Garrett also shares the second interview he captured at the 2019 Sphinx Conference, featuring collaborative pianist Brandon Coffer. Don't call him an accompanist!

A Beautiful World · Heather McElhatton · Jun 3, 2019 - Indre Viskontas is an opera singer and a neuroscientist. She's professor of sciences and humanities at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music, assistant professor of psychology at the University of San Francisco, and the creative director of Pasadena Opera. (Some people just get more done with their days.) Her new book is titled: "How Music Can Make You Better."

The Splendid Table · Shauna Sever · Jun 4, 2019 - Do you scroll through your Instagram feed, looking all of these gorgeous, perfect food photos, and instead of feeling inspired, you start to feel bad? You are not alone. The British food writer, journalist and historian Bee Wilson says one of life’s greatest joys — food and eating — have become fraught with anxiety and confusion. She has a new book called, The Way We Eat Now: How the Food Revolution Has Transformed Our Lives, Our Bodies and our World. Contributor Shauna Sever recently talked with her from London. Also enjoy Shauna and Bee's conversation, Who broke the lunch break? Bee Wilson considers the disappearance of lunchtime.

Cody Nelson · Jun 3, 2019 - Screens, homework and highly structured lives are changing childhood in such a significant way that scientists and advocates have given the phenomenon a name: nature deficit disorder.

"Childhood has really moved indoors and we know that that has really serious implications for children's physical health, their mental health, their overall well-being," said Laura Mylan of the Children and Nature Network.

Nature deficit disorder isn't meant to be a medical diagnosis. Rather, it's a term to describe how people — especially the past generation of kids — are spending less time outside and lack a connection to nature. While the word "deficit" implies negativity, people who study nature deficit disorder see great opportunity in addressing the concerns with a lack of exposure to the outdoors. There's a growing body of research on health benefits of being outside.

Alisa Roth, Tim Nelson · Minneapolis · Jun 3, 2019 - The stranger who threw a 5-year-old boy over a third-floor railing at the Mall of America, badly injuring him, was sentenced Monday to 19 years for the crime. Emmanuel Aranda, 24, had already pleaded guilty to attempted premeditated first-degree murder in the April 12 attack.

The case is a good reminder that people who commit crimes have often been victims of trauma, said Mary Moriarty, the chief public defender of Hennepin County, which represented Aranda.

"I think what we all need to think about as community is how to interrupt that, how to offer resources for people who are struggling with trauma so they don't end up in the criminal justice system," Moriarty said.