News & Information

Rhitu Chatterjee • November 6, 2019 - Childhood trauma causes serious health repercussions throughout life and is a public health issue that calls for concerted prevention efforts. That's the takeaway of a report published Tuesday from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Experiencing traumatic things as a child puts you at risk for lifelong health effects, according to a body of research. The CDC's new report confirms this, finding that Americans who'd experienced adverse childhood experiences or ACEs, were at higher risk of dying from five of the top 10 leading causes of death

Tom Crann • November 5, 2019 - Whether it's over family or work, even climate change or national headlines, we've all experienced some degree of anxiety. The National Alliance on Mental Illness, or NAMI, says it's the most common mental health concern in the United States, with 19 percent of adults experiencing an anxiety disorder. 

So when is it something you just ride out, and when does it become something for which you should seek help? 

Dr. Kaz Nelson, a psychiatrist at the University of Minnesota, told MPR News host Tom Crann some degree of anxiety is good.

Jon Hamilton • November 2, 2019 - The brain waves generated during deep sleep appear to trigger a cleaning system in the brain that protects it against Alzheimer's and other neurodegenerative diseases, researchers reported Thursday in the journal Science.

Electrical signals known as slow waves appear just before a pulse of fluid washes through the brain, presumably removing toxins associated with Alzheimer's.

The finding could help explain a puzzling link between sleep and Alzheimer's, says Laura Lewis, an author of the study and an assistant professor in the department of biomedical engineering at Boston University. "Some disruption to the way sleep is working could potentially be contributing to the decline in brain health," Lewis says.

Laura Ungar • October 31, 2019 - Arline Feilen lost her husband to suicide in 2013. Three years later, she lost her dad to cancer. And this February, she lost her 89-year-old mom to a cascade of health problems.

A few days after that painful holiday, she drank eight or nine light beers in several hours, trying to drown her pain. She sent alarming texts to her sister and friends, raising concern she might harm herself. One friend called 911, summoning an ambulance that took her to Northwestern Medicine Central DuPage Hospital.

Feilen arrived in the emergency room on a mid-May night and was moved to a shared room in the inpatient psychiatric unit the next day. In total, she spent five nights in the hospital.

When she got home, she stopped drinking beer. She kept taking the medication and continued counseling. She came to view her mental health crisis as "another mountain I've climbed" — and reminded herself of her accomplishment by keeping her hospital bracelet in her bedroom near a candle. Her grief began to recede.

Then the bill came.

Jon Collins • North St. Paul • October 30, 2019 - Until her death earlier this month, Liz Casper, 37, of Minneapolis, was one of the more than 2 million Americans addicted to opioids. She died Oct. 18 of complications from cancer. But she struggled with her addiction for two decades.

I’m writing about Liz because she is one face of America’s opioid epidemic. Like millions of others, she found herself pressed between the illness of addiction, the black market for illicit drugs and the medical system. No one, including Liz, is blameless.

She died as an active heroin user who repeatedly tried to quit. But as people in her life told me at her memorial, that doesn’t mean she failed.

Cody Nelson, Manda Lillie and Angela Davis • St. Paul • October 28, 2019 - The 6:15 a.m. alarm rings and you drag yourself out of bed. It’s dark. You pour the first cup of coffee to get out the door and into your car for work. It’s freezing — 9 degrees and windy.

The sun rises and sets while you sit in a cube 15 feet away from a window overlooking a strip mall.

Drive home and eat a plate of tater-tot hotdish and green beans. Think about going to the gym but it’s too cold. Stay in and have dessert. A glass of wine, maybe two, to fall asleep. Wake up and repeat.

If this sounds like a relatable wintertime routine, you’re not alone here in the north. However, there are plenty of good ways to avoid the cold weather blues and stay healthy. 

Alisa Roth • St. Paul • October 21, 2019 - Being a veterinarian sounds like a dream job, with plenty of opportunities to play with puppies or snuggle bearded dragons. And while it has its upsides, for sure, the job also comes with tough demands, ranging from dealing with angry pet owners to the emotional stress of having to euthanize animals.

Maja Beckstrom • October 15, 2019 - In the 1970s, the founder of the National Institute on Aging convinced a nation that senility was really Alzheimer's and could be cured. Research money flowed to one theory, leaving alternatives unexamined — today it's come up short.

Allison Aubrey and Will Stone • October 10, 2019 - There's no doubt that opioids have been massively overprescribed in U.S. In the haste to address the epidemic, there's been pressure on doctors to reduce prescriptions of these drugs — and in fact prescriptions are declining. But along the way, some chronic pain patients have been forced to rapidly taper or discontinue the drugs altogether. 

Now, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has a new message for doctors: Abrupt changes to a patient's opioid prescription could harm them.

Alisa Roth • October 11, 2019 - Minneapolis and St. Paul are proposing new city ordinances that would ban gay conversion therapy, the controversial treatment designed to change people’s sexual orientation or sexual identity.

The move comes after state lawmakers failed to pass a law banning the practice during the last legislative session.

Backers’ hope is the ordinances will both end the use of conversion therapy and raise awareness about the practice.

Allison Aubrey and Rhitu Chatterjee • October 9, 2019 - There's fresh evidence that eating a healthy diet, one that includes plenty of fruits and vegetables and limits highly processed foods, can help reduce symptoms of depression.

randomized controlled trial published in the journal PLOS ONE finds that symptoms of depression dropped significantly among a group of young adults after they followed a Mediterranean-style pattern of eating for three weeks. Participants saw their depression "score" fall from the "moderate" range down to the "normal" range, and they reported lower levels of anxiety and stress too.

Alisa Roth • Minneapolis • October 7, 2019 - Juanita Jensen grew up in a gun family. She doesn’t hunt, but believes in the sport and is used to having guns around.

And as the parents of five children, Juanita and her husband were careful to follow all the rules for firearm safety: Keep the guns separate from the bullets. Lock up everything. Enroll their teen boys in gun-safety classes so they could learn to hunt responsibly.

But despite all of their precautions, they realized just how tough it is to keep guns away from someone who shouldn’t have one.

As a coalition of employer purchasers, the Minnesota Health Action Group, in collaboration with the National Alliance of Health Care Purchaser Coalitions, conducted the eValue8 Mental Health Deep Dive for Minnesota Health Plans. This was a rigorous “request for information” process, backed by employers and mental health experts nationally.

The Deep Dive Philosophy and Process Expectations are highly aspirational Questions were distributed to health plans and data was submitted online. Data provided was for the 2018 plan year, with responses due by April 30, 2019 Each participating plan received a personalized, confidential “Summary and Recommendations” report to guide quality improvement efforts Public reporting of results is intended to guide marketwide improvement in mental health care and outcomes The Deep Dive asked detailed and important questions about health plan capabilities to provide the high-quality, affordable, integrated, and measurement-based mental health care that employers expect and employees deserve. The National Alliance published Deep Dive results for eight health plans and managed behavioral health organizations in 2018, and the national evaluation served as the foundation for the 2019 Minnesota assessment.

Although suicides account for the majority of gun deaths in the United States — 60% in the latest data — by and large American adults are unaware of this. In our survey, only one-fourth of Americans correctly answered that gun deaths by suicide outnumber deaths resulting from mass shootings, murders other than mass shootings, and accidental gun discharges. This is no better than guessing at random from among the four choices given.

Heath Druzin • October 2, 2019 - Mass shootings may grab the headlines, but suicides are by far the leading category of gun death in America. However, most Americans don’t know this, according to a new national poll from APM Research Lab, Call To Mind and Guns & America.

Experts say this misperception is handcuffing suicide prevention efforts.

The poll asked more than 1,000 Americans what they think the leading cause of gun deaths is.

Thirty-three percent of respondents chose homicides outside of mass shootings, while 25% thought that mass shootings caused the most gun deaths. Only 23% correctly guessed that suicides are the leading cause. The remaining respondents chose accidental shootings or said they didn’t know.

Alisa Roth • Mankato, Minn. • September 28, 2019 - Mental health took center stage as law enforcement officers, county attorneys, elected officials and other community leaders gathered Saturday in Mankato for the second meeting of a state working group on police use of deadly force.

“The goal here is nothing less than to save lives — to save young people's lives in our communities, to save lives of officers, and to restore and build on the trust that communities and their police departments have to have if we're to function as a civil society,” Department of Public Safety Commissioner John Harrington said as the hearing opened.

Jon Collins • September 20, 2019 - A statement posted Thursday night on the Hennepin County attorney’s website sparked outrage in the overdose prevention and drug recovery communities. Advocates and physicians say the prosecutor’s office mischaracterized the anti-overdose medication Narcan, and that the agency’s words could cause people to fear the life-saving medication.

Julie Siple, Sam Choo and Angela Davis • September 18, 2019 - The stress of farming can lead to anxiety or depression. It can also trigger or worsen other mental health conditions.

But people living in rural counties often have to go farther than those in cities to find a mental health professional. And, they have fewer options. Most non-metro counties do not have a psychiatrist. Nearly half don't have a psychologist. What’s more, the costs of care can be crushing, with many agricultural workers earning wages below the poverty line.

Alisa Roth • Minneapolis • September 18, 2019 - When someone is experiencing a mental health crisis, often the only alternatives are jail or an emergency room. Neither of those alternatives is particularly helpful, and sometimes they can make a person’s condition worse. Nationwide, cities and counties are searching for cheaper and more therapeutic options.

Some are turning to Forensic Assertive Community Treatment, or FACT, teams — a way to provide a range of support services designed to keep people with serious mental illness out of the hospital and out of the criminal justice system.

Riham Feshir • Bloomington • September 17, 2019 - Sarah Gad got hooked on opioids the same way many others do in this country — with a doctor’s prescription.

A devastating car accident resulted in broken bones and a fractured skull. It stripped Gad of her ability to walk and speak.

Substance abuse is stigmatized in many communities. But Gad, who was raised in a traditional Muslim family, knew that drug use was especially frowned upon and viewed as sinful and taboo.

For many in Minnesota’s Muslim community, drug and alcohol addiction is often silent struggle, even as efforts are underway to discuss the condition openly.

Angela Davis and Karen Zamora • St. Paul • September 16, 2019 - As families and community members of the shooting victims grieve, there’s growing concern in law enforcement that responding to traumatic calls without mental health support can take a toll on the well-being of officers.

MPR News host Angela Davis led a conversation Monday about the impact of police work on officers and the communities they police.

Dan Gunderson and Mohamed Ibrahim • September 13, 2019 - In an effort to address the mental health of Minnesota farmers, the Legislature approved funding that will provide them with a second counselor to help deal with stress and other concerns.

Monica McConkey, who has more than 20 years of experience in behavioral health as a counselor, will begin working with northern Minnesota farmers on Oct. 1. Teaching farmers different methods to cope with stress caused by financial losses or bad weather will be a chief component of her work, she said.

Rhitu Chatterjee • September 13, 2019 - The Federal Communications Commission is proposing to launch a new three-digit hotline for people who are feeling suicidal or are going through any other mental health crisis. It recommends making 988 the new national number to call for help, replacing the current 10-digit number.

The agency presented the idea to Congress in a report earlier this month and is expected to release more information and seek public comment about the proposal in the coming months.

Mental health advocates are excited about the proposal. They say it will make it easier for people in crisis to seek help, but caution that effective implementation could be costly, as the move could increase the need for staff to answer calls.

Jon Collins • Plymouth • September 12, 2019 - Police work can be stressful and unpredictable. An officer never knows when something routine like a traffic stop can escalate into something traumatic. It’s a side of the job that not many civilians see or think about.

There’s growing concern in law enforcement that responding to traumatic calls over and over without mental health support can take a toll on officers’ well-being, and that built-up trauma can make it more challenging for officers and community members to rebuild trust between them.

Steve Inskeep and Tori Whitley • September 13, 2019 - The Lumineers have taken their latest album, III, as an opportunity to shine a light on a topic that's close to many of the members' lives — addiction. III tells a story of addiction in three acts. As the album runs from one song to the next, it's a tale of one family facing the same problem. "It's the family secret and it's a taboo," Wes Schultz, the band's lead vocalist, says. 

Drummer Jeremiah Fraites says addiction happens in cycles and should be considered that way.

Alisa Roth • St. Paul • September 11, 2019 - Say a person in psychological distress wants to die. So, he threatens the police, often by waving a knife or gun. (As with more generic forms of suicide, most cases involve men.) Then the officers are “forced” to kill him — to protect themselves and others. The scenario is often said to be suicide by cop.

Some academic studies say the phenomenon accounts for as many as a third of fatal police shootings. But does it really? Or is it, as some critics say, just another way to let cops off the hook? It’s generally agreed that some fatal police shootings are suicide by cop. 

The question is, which ones?

Selena Simmons-Duffin • September 9, 2019 - Plenty of research shows that adverse childhood experiences can lead to depression and other health problems later in life. But researcher Christina Bethell wondered whether positive experiences in childhood could counter that. Her research comes from a personal place.

Selena Simmons-Duffin • September 6, 2019 - Peter Grinspoon got addicted to Vicodin in medical school, and still had an opioid addiction five years into practice as a primary care physician. Then, in February 2005, he got caught.

He was fingerprinted the next day and charged with three felony counts of fraudulently obtaining a controlled substance.

He also was immediately referred to a Physician Health Program, one of the state-run specialty treatment programs developed in the 1970s by physicians to help fellow physicians beat addiction. Known to doctors as PHPs, these programs now cover other sorts of health providers, too.

The programs work with state medical licensing boards — if you follow the treatment and monitoring plan they set up for you, they'll recommend to the board that you get your medical license back, Grinspoon explains. It's a significant incentive.

But the problem, he and other critics say, is that, for various reasons, most PHPs don't allow medical professionals access to the same evidence-based, "gold standard" treatment that addiction specialists today recommend for most patients addicted to opioids: medication-assisted treatment.

Alisa Roth • Minneapolis • September 4, 2019 - For a long time, the address 1800 Chicago in Minneapolis has been synonymous with detox. As in, end-of-the-road, hit-rock-bottom detox.

Now Hennepin County is turning the facility into a one-stop shop for services ranging from detox to mental health care to help signing up for low-income housing. It’s designed to keep people with mental health and substance use problems out of jail and hospitals.

MPR News Staff • August 29, 2019 - Monday was "Mental Health Day" at the Minnesota State Fair. MPR medical commentator Dr. Jon Hallberg hosted Hippocrates Cafe at the MPR State Fair booth, as part of Minnesota Public Radio’s “Call to Mind” initiative to promote good mental health. It features music and the spoken word.

Anya Kamenetz • August 27, 2019 - More teens and young adults — particularly girls and young women — are reporting being depressed and anxious, compared with comparable numbers from the mid-2000s. Suicides are up too in that time period, most noticeably among girls ages 10 to 14. These trends are the basis of a scientific controversy. 

One hypothesis that has gotten a lot of traction is that with nearly every teen using a smartphone these days, digital media must take some of the blame for worsening mental health.

But some researchers argue that this theory isn't well supported by existing evidence and that it repeats a "moral panic" argument made many times in the past about video games, rap lyrics, television and even radio, back in its early days.

Leigh Paterson • August 20, 2019 - Strong majorities of Americans from across the political spectrum support laws that allow family members or law enforcement to petition a judge to temporarily remove guns from a person who is seen to be a risk to themselves or others, according to a new APM Research Lab/Guns & America/Call To Mind survey.

These laws, often called extreme risk protection order laws, or red flag laws, have received renewed attention after 31 people were killed during mass shootings in El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio. Variations of these red flag laws are in place in 17 states and the District of Columbia.

Brandt Williams, Manda Lillie and Karen Zamora • August 14, 2019 - A musician's workplace is often a bar or nightclub. Usually there's alcohol. Sometimes drugs.

But what happens when a musician decides to become sober? How do they navigate a world that doesn’t seem to encourage this new change?

Two local musicians, Lydia Hoglund (who performs under the name Lydia Liza) and Kevin Bowe, were featured in a City Pages article on navigating the music scene as sober musicians. They joined guest host Brandt Williams to talk about their journey, breaking points and how they continue to stay sober.

Allison Aubrey • August 11, 2019 - Could it happen here? It's a question a lot of people ask in the wake of a traumatic event.

Even if you're not directly connected to the events in El Paso, Gilroy or Dayton, chances are you've felt the weight of them. 

"People do feel traumatized," says family therapist Jonathan Vickburg, of Cedars Sinai in Los Angeles. The idea that an act of violence could happen anywhere makes us anxious.  People may think twice about attending a music festival or walking into a WalMart. 

But, there are strategies to counter the fear  — and move forward. 

Jacki Lyden • June 28, 2019 - 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.

Samantha Balaban, Scott Simon and Josh Axelrod • July 27, 2019 - Across the country, suicide rates have been on the rise, and that rise has struck the nation's seniors particularly hard. Of the more than 47,000 suicides that took place in 2017, those 65 and up accounted for more than 8,500 of them, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Men who are 65 and older face the highest risk of suicide, while adults 85 and older, regardless of gender, are the second most likely age group to die from suicide.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, there were 47.8 million people over the age of 65 in the U.S. as of 2015. By 2060, that number is projected to reach 98.2 million. 

Associated Press • Salem, Ore. • July 21, 2019 - Oregon will allow students to take "mental health days" just as they would sick days, expanding the reasons for excused school absences to include mental or behavioral health under a new law that experts say is one of the first of its kind in the U.S.

But don't call it coddling. The students behind the measure say it's meant to change the stigma around mental health in a state that has some of the United States' highest suicide rates. Mental health experts say it is one of the first state laws to explicitly instruct schools to treat mental health and physical health equally, and it comes at a time educators are increasingly considering the emotional health of students. Utah passed a similar law last year.

Peter Cox • St. Paul • July 25, 2019 - The Minnesota Historical Society is something like the state’s memory, preserving the state’s past. The society is also taking on the role of helping Minnesotans whose memories are waning because of dementia. The term dementia is a catchall for a range of problems with memory, thinking and social skills that are severe enough to affect daily living.

In a room right off the front entrance to the Minnesota History Center in St. Paul, a dozen people sat around tables Tuesday afternoon, using an iPad app called House of Memories. It’s designed for people with dementia.

Alisa Roth • Rush City, Minn. • July 22, 2019 - As more and more people in prison need mental health care, more and more prison systems are turning to telepsychiatry. It’s basically a video psychiatry appointment, a doctor’s visit via Skype or FaceTime.

“Seeing patients, it’s really not that different,” said psychiatrist, Dr. Tanuja Reddy. “I feel like it’s the same patients, same type of patients, same type of concerns that we’re addressing. The only difference is I’m not there inside the prison.”

Alisa Roth • St. Paul • July 11, 2019 - Plaintiffs in a class-action lawsuit against Minnetonka-based UnitedHealth have filed their rebuttal to the company's arguments challenging the remedies they're seeking in the lawsuit. 

A federal judge in California has already found in favor of the plaintiffs accusations that UnitedHealth's coverage for behavioral health care is substandard. Now, lawyers expect, the judge will schedule oral arguments before making a final decision about proposed remedies.

Dan Gunderson, Elizabeth Shockman • July 11, 2019 - The new president of the University of Minnesota is ready to hit the ground running. Joan Gabel gave her first report as president to the university board of regents on Thursday. She told regents she is ready to take leaps where needed and incremental steps when necessary to advance the mission of the university.

When asked what she will focus on in her first months, Gabel talked about making effective use of the institution's budget and investing in student well-being. The U's new president made particular note of the focus she wants to bring to student mental health. She said she's done a lot of personal education and attended conferences to learn about the topic.

"It is epidemic, legitimately referred to as a crisis," Gabel said. "Often well over 40 percent of our students arrive on campus with a mental health diagnosis. And so, that's a lot more than just care for the diagnosis as it may be. It's developing a climate where students who have challenges — mental health and otherwise — can either get what they need on campus or we can direct them to where they can get it." 

Angela Davis, Jeyca Maldonado-Medina · St. Paul · July 9, 2019 - Seeking mental health treatment may seem like an intimidating, confusing process at first. However, it is possible, and this guide can help you get started.

Brandt Williams, Simone Cazares • July 8, 2019 - When Medaria Arradondo became chief of the Minneapolis police, the department was going through a turbulent time. Justine Ruszczyk had just been killed by a Minneapolis police officer, Mohamed Noor, and the debate on body camera use was in full swing. 

Having been a Minneapolis police officer for more than 30 years, Arradondo had built strong relationships in the department and out in the community. Many thought he could be the change they wanted to see, and Arradondo knew there was work to be done. 

"I knew we needed to do two things," Arradondo told Brandt Williams on MPR News. "One was we needed to truly transform the department and the culture of the MPD, and the other one was specifically rooted in trust. We're an organization that's 150 years old. We've done a lot of great things in that time but, self-admittedly, we've harmed communities in those 150 years."

Keeping officers healthy, physically and mentally is among Arradondo's top goals.  

"There's the saying that hurt people hurt people," he said. "I need to make sure that officers are just and well in doing this job." 

Marla Khan-Schwartz · July 8, 2019 - Widely known as the frontman for Communist Daughter, John Solomon recently announced that he completed a master’s degree in clinical counseling from the Hazelden Betty Ford Institute — the same place where he received treatment for addiction and mental health issues eight years earlier.

Diagnosed with bipolar disorder, generalized anxiety disorder, and polysubstance use (in remission), Solomon has been an outspoken advocate for those who struggle with mental health or addiction issues, often using his music as a vehicle to relay his experiences and emotions.

“I love doing music, but what was actually making me more excited, was what music was allowing me to do with talking about mental health and addiction,” said Solomon. “I realized that maybe my passion now is talking about mental health and addiction.” 

John Nguyen • St. Paul • July 6, 2019 - State officials say the financial and emotional challenges affecting Minnesota farmers has hit farm kids even harder.   

"We all know that kids feel the stress that the families feel, even if it's not being talked about," said Monica McConkey, a licensed professional counselor.  

McConkey will teach two free workshops the Minnesota Department of Agriculture is offering that provide an overview of stressors unique to growing up on a farm. These pilot workshops focusing on youth and farm stress are a first for the department, and as far as department officials know, the first in the region.

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.