mental health

Todd Bookman / NHPR

In the 1950s, the state psychiatric hospital in Concord was home to about 2,500 adults. The manicured campus had it all, including a golf course, barber shop, skating rink.

“For some folks, they talk about those days like some of us talk about going to college," says Ken Norton, Director of National Alliance on Mental Illness in New Hampshire (NAMI-NH).

“There was bowling and movie theaters and different events at night. They had their friends there and they were very used to the way that the hospital functioned.”

Later this week 110 members of the New Hampshire Army National Guard will mobilize in support of combat operations in Afghanistan. The 237th Military Police Company will train in Texas for several months before departing to Khost Province.

77 of the soldiers are deploying for the first time. But others are on their second and third; one is one his fifth deployment.

It’s those repeated deployments that have been a signature of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq – and a researcher at UNH, they could take a toll on servicemembers’ families.

Advocates for the state’s mental health centers say the state hasn’t lived up to its own plan to improve services in the state. And this week, they’re calling for more than $37 million in increased funding to support a stretched system.

The state’s 10-year plan, called ‘A Strategy For Restoration,’ came out in 2008. It called for major investments in the state’s mental health system, and was hailed as a great step forward. But 5 years into the initiative, advocates say the state has actually slid backwards.

The recent and somewhat controversial changes to the manual to diagnose mental illness, also known as the DSM-5, will become official later this spring. Edits to the manual are based around an evolving understanding of mental disorders, which historically, haven’t always been accurate. A shocking diagnosis took hold at the height of the Civil Rights movement in the 1960’s, when thousands of young black men were arrested at protests and sent to the Ionia State Hospital for the Criminally Insane in Michigan, where they were systematically diagnosed with schizophrenia.

Though it’s unclear what motivated the shootings, many say mental health care can be a line of defense in preventing tragedies. But in the Granite State, these services have been cut and a new report says the system is in “crisis”. As part of a three day series on possible lessons from Newtown, we look at the conversation around mental health.

Guests

Advocates for mental health services say the state’s plan to re-open 12 beds at New Hampshire Hospital doesn’t go far enough to improve care. Representatives from more than a dozen organizations gathered today in Concord, and described a system stretched beyond its limits.

And they want New Hampshire lawmakers to know that no other medical condition gets treated this way.

Talking About Mental Health, Post-Newtown

Jan 7, 2013
tifotter via Flickr Creative Commons

Andrew Beaujon is senior online reporter for the Poynter institute. He talked to a number of health reporters about how they think mental health coverage is being handled post-Newtown, and he joins us with his findings.

Thomas Fearon

The state Department of Health and Human Services announced plans to temporarily reopen 12 beds at the state’s psychiatric hospital.

The state now needs to find more than $2 million to cover the cost.

Mental health advocates say the plan to add beds at New Hampshire Hospital is an encouraging first step in addressing long waiting lists for treatment.

But Ken Norton with the state chapter of the National Alliance for the Mentally Ill says there is still much work to be done.

Designed for Recovery

Aug 29, 2012
Deval Patrick's Photostream via Flickr

Treatment of the mentally ill has come a long way from the dark, locked wards of asylums now shuttered and crumbling in several New England towns. We now know much more about the brain, psychopharmacology and the importance of community for people suffering with profound mental conditions.

As schools continue to mainstream children with disabilities, students with emotional and behavioral disabilities  may be the toughest to include.  They’re less likely to graduate and more likely to get arrested.  And there are questions about how to approach these kids – whether it’s a matter of more discipline or alternative methods.  We look at this issue and discuss a new documentary that takes a look at the topic through the life of a high school student coping with these disabilities.  

Guests:

The case of Staff Sgt. Robert Bales, the U.S. soldier charged with killing 17 Afghan villagers, has led the Army to review how troops are screened for post-traumatic stress disorder. The Pentagon and the Department of Veterans Affairs say they have invested heavily in the treatment of PTSD to deal with a growing caseload.

But the stigma associated with the disorder continues to complicate efforts to treat it. It has also fueled serious misconceptions about its effects — such as the notion that PTSD causes acts of extreme violence.

New Hampshire is denying claims made by the U-S Department of Justice that the state is violating the Americans with Disabilities Act.

The Attorney General’s Office issued a formal response to the findings Tuesday.

The U-S Department of Justice concluded in April that the state was violating federal law in the way it treats the mentally ill.

It criticized the state for failing to provide adequate community-based services, leading to prolonged stays at the state hospital.

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