WBEZ | Mental Health http://www.wbez.org/tags/mental-health Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Officer Who Killed Laquan McDonald Lacked Crisis Training http://www.wbez.org/news/officer-who-killed-laquan-mcdonald-lacked-crisis-training-113907 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/Chicago Police_Flickr_Isador Ruyter Harcourt_2.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>The officer who fatally shot 17-year-old Laquan McDonald never received the Chicago Police Department&rsquo;s Crisis Intervention Team training, known as CIT. CIT training prepares officers to respond to mental health crisis calls, including those where a person is behaving erratically because of drug use.</p><p>Officer Jason Van Dyke, who is white, shot McDonald 16 times. He arrived at the scene after other officers had been following the African-American teen as he walked the streets carrying a knife and refusing to follow orders. An autopsy report showed that the a hallucinogenic drug PCP was found in McDonald&#39;s system, according to the Associated Press. Van Dyke&rsquo;s attorney says the officer feared for his life. A video of that shooting is expected to be released by Wednesday this week.&nbsp;</p><p>CIT trained officers learn alternatives to using force; the training is voluntary. Sgt. Lori Cooper, who runs the Chicago Police Department&#39;s CIT program, confirmed that Van Dyke had not received the training.&nbsp; A spokesperson for the Chicago Police Department would not comment.</p><p>University of Illinois Chicago researcher Amy Watson studies CIT. She says the training &ldquo;could be helpful for dealing with someone who is agitated and not following commands, regardless of the reason for the agitation.&rdquo;&nbsp;</p><p>&ldquo;We do know that sometimes people who are in crisis can escalate and can act in a way that looks impulsive. But we know if officers have additional training they may respond with a different tool,&rdquo; said National Alliance on Mental Illness Chicago&rsquo;s Executive Director Alexa James.&nbsp;The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) Chicago, collaborates with CPD to run the trainings.</p><p>Under 20 percent of Chicago police officers have gone through the training. State funding for Crisis Intervention Training in Chicago has been on hold since the start of the budget impasse. Since then the number officers receiving training has drastically dropped.&nbsp;</p><p><em>Katie O&rsquo;Brien and Patrick Smith contributed to this report.</em></p><p><em>Shannon Heffernan is a reporter for WBEZ you can follow her <a href="http://twitter.com/shannon_h">@shannon_h</a></em></p></p> Mon, 23 Nov 2015 17:11:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/officer-who-killed-laquan-mcdonald-lacked-crisis-training-113907 Surge in use of 'synthetic marijuana' still one step ahead of the law http://www.wbez.org/news/surge-use-synthetic-marijuana-still-one-step-ahead-law-113769 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/gettyimages-483036588_custom-bbaa484af5354fa4824d60d5a86c445511667b26-s600-c85.jpg" alt="" /><p><div id="res455630086" previewtitle="The drug sold as K2, spike, spice or &quot;synthetic marijuana&quot; may look like dried marijuana leaves. But it's really any of a combination of chemicals created in a lab that are then sprayed on dried plant material."><div data-crop-type=""><img alt="The drug sold as K2, spike, spice or &quot;synthetic marijuana&quot; may look like dried marijuana leaves. But it's really any of a combination of chemicals created in a lab that are then sprayed on dried plant material." src="http://media.npr.org/assets/img/2015/11/11/gettyimages-483036588_custom-bbaa484af5354fa4824d60d5a86c445511667b26-s600-c85.jpg" style="height: 406px; width: 620px;" title="The drug sold as K2, spike, spice or &quot;synthetic marijuana&quot; may look like dried marijuana leaves. But it's really any of a combination of chemicals created in a lab that are then sprayed on dried plant material. (Spencer Platt/Getty Images)" /></div><div><div><p>A street drug made of various chemicals sprayed on tea leaves, grass clippings and other plant material continues to send thousands of people suffering from psychotic episodes and seizures to emergency rooms around the country.</p></div></div></div><p>In 2015, calls to poison control regarding the drug already have&nbsp;<a href="http://www.aapcc.org/alerts/synthetic-cannabinoids/">almost doubled</a>, compared to last year&#39;s total,&nbsp;and health professionals and lawmakers are struggling to keep up with the problem.</p><p>Some call the drug K2, or spice. It&#39;s also widely known as &quot;synthetic marijuana,&quot; because the key chemicals in the spray are often man-made versions of cannabinoids, a family of psychoactive substances found in marijuana.</p><p>But the ingredients and concentrations used in this street drug vary widely, and it can be very different from marijuana in its effects.</p><div id="res455629891" previewtitle="Edwin Santana, 52, entered a detox program at Syracuse Behavioral Healthcare to help break his heroin addiction and daily habit of smoking the synthetic drug known as spike."><div data-crop-type=""><img alt="Edwin Santana, 52, entered a detox program at Syracuse Behavioral Healthcare to help break his heroin addiction and daily habit of smoking the synthetic drug known as spike." src="http://media.npr.org/assets/img/2015/11/11/spice21-a9463c1e36d190400e432919594a9d4a3518c77d-s600-c85.jpg" style="height: 464px; width: 620px;" title="Edwin Santana, 52, entered a detox program at Syracuse Behavioral Healthcare to help break his heroin addiction and daily habit of smoking the synthetic drug known as spike. (Hansi Lo Wang/NPR)" /></div><div><div><p>At a drug rehabilitation center a short drive north of Syracuse University, where 52-year-old Edwin Santana has come for treatment, they call the drug &quot;spike.&quot;</p></div></div></div><p>Santana, who was born in the Bronx, is a few weeks into his detox program at Syracuse Behavioral Healthcare. A longtime heroin user, he became homeless after multiple run-ins with the law. Then, he says, a couple years ago he developed a problem with spike.</p><p>&quot;It was getting out of hand,&quot; Santana says. &quot;I was starting to smoke every day. And you know, spike is a drug I respect, because you don&#39;t know what you&#39;re getting.&quot;</p><p>The drug also inspires fear in him.</p><p>&quot;Not a little bit of fear. A&nbsp;lot&nbsp;of fear,&quot; he adds.</p><p>It&#39;s hard to guess what will happen after you smoke or ingest spike, both&nbsp;users and drug enforcement officials say, because the chemists who make it are constantly changing the main ingredients &mdash; tweaking a cannabinoid&#39;s chemical structure, or mixing it with other substances entirely, which can change its effects.</p><p>&quot;You get stuck when you&#39;re on spike,&quot; Santana says. &quot;And it makes you do all kinds of crazy things, man. I&#39;ve seen people roll around on the floor and stuff like that.&quot; Smoking the drug landed him in the hospital.</p><p>Angel Stanley, a psychiatric nurse at the rehab center, ticks off the symptoms she&#39;s seen in patients who have smoked spike: &quot;Auditory hallucinations, visual hallucinations, disorganized thinking, delusional thinking. Paranoia is a big one.&quot;</p><p>Many of these patients, she says, expected that smoking spike would be just like smoking regular pot, because the drug was sold as &quot;synthetic marijuana.&quot; The drug first became popular with teens, who were looking for a new way to get high for just a few dollars.</p><p>But now, Stanley says, she&#39;s seeing older users, too.</p><p>&quot;They&#39;ve gone from using some marijuana in the past, a little bit of alcohol use over the years, and now all of a sudden, they&#39;re in their 50s and they&#39;re addicted to spike,&quot; she says.</p><p>Often users are also homeless.</p><p>&quot;A lot of people who use it, their reality is pretty bleak, so they use spike to escape that reality,&quot; explains Matthew, who asked that we not use his last name. He just finished an inpatient program at Syracuse Behavioral Healthcare to help him stop using spike and cocaine, and doesn&#39;t want future employers to find out about his past.</p><p>&quot;The main thing with spike,&quot; Matthew explains, &quot;is this: It is the cheapest, most effective high in Syracuse right now. Is it the most enjoyable high? Probably not. But it&#39;s the cheapest, hands down.&quot;</p><p>The question facing workers at rehab centers and emergency rooms is how to effectively treat users of a drug that&#39;s essentially an unknown mixture.</p><p>&quot;We know how to treat an alcoholic,&quot; says Jeremy Klemanski, who heads Syracuse Behavioral Healthcare. &quot;We know how to treat an opiate patient. We know how to treat somebody&#39;s who&#39;s using cocaine. But, when we say we know how to treat somebody who is using synthetics &mdash; to a&nbsp;certain extent&nbsp;we do.&quot;</p><p>Health professionals faced with such a patient are usually flying blind, Klemanski says. Some types of spike can be detected in drug tests, but not all.</p><p>&quot;Until we get to a point where the treatment system has as sophisticated testing as the labs that are inventing and creating these things, we&#39;ll struggle,&quot; he says.</p><p>Lawmakers are paying attention. The federal government has&nbsp;<a href="http://www.deadiversion.usdoj.gov/fed_regs/rules/2013/fr0104.htm">permanently banned</a>&nbsp;more than a dozen types of synthetic cannabinoids.</p><p>But packets of &quot;spike&quot; and &quot;K2&quot; and &quot;spice&quot; are still sold in many mom-and-pop convenience stores, because they contain versions of cannabinoids not covered by the ban, says Matt Strait of the Drug Enforcement Administration.</p><p>&quot;They are in a legal grey area,&quot; Strait explains, &quot;because they&#39;re not specifically named in the statute.&quot;</p><p>That keeps makers and dealers of spike one step ahead of state and federal laws. Congress is weighing how to streamline the process of regulating new versions. Meanwhile, the Drug Enforcement Administration has been investigating and temporarily banning some new forms of the drug.</p><p>But back in Syracuse, some health professionals and spike users say the government can&#39;t move fast enough to keep up with new varieties hitting the streets.</p><p>&mdash; <a href="http://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2015/11/11/455616893/surge-in-use-of-synthetic-marijuana-still-one-step-ahead-of-the-law?ft=nprml&amp;f=455616893" target="_blank"><em>via NPR</em></a></p></p> Fri, 13 Nov 2015 10:15:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/surge-use-synthetic-marijuana-still-one-step-ahead-law-113769 To prevent addiction in adults, help teens lean how to cope http://www.wbez.org/news/prevent-addiction-adults-help-teens-lean-how-cope-113768 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/kid-blue-shirt_custom-2220c2f153bf62b6dbdd782c0ab2a1dded92eddb-s800-c85.jpg" alt="" /><p><div id="res455667331" previewtitle="Madison Square Boys &amp; Girl Club, which operates four clubs in Brooklyn and the Bronx, reaches about 200 teenagers with an substance abuse prevention curriculum called Empowerment."><p data-crop-type=""><img alt="Madison Square Boys &amp; Girl Club, which operates four clubs in Brooklyn and the Bronx, reaches about 200 teenagers with an substance abuse prevention curriculum called Empowerment." src="http://media.npr.org/assets/img/2015/11/11/kid-blue-shirt_custom-2220c2f153bf62b6dbdd782c0ab2a1dded92eddb-s800-c85.jpg" style="height: 412px; width: 620px;" title="Madison Square Boys &amp; Girl Club, which operates four clubs in Brooklyn and the Bronx, reaches about 200 teenagers with an substance abuse prevention curriculum called Empowerment. (Robert Stolarik for NPR)" /></p><div><div><p>Addiction is a pediatric disease,&quot; says Dr. John Knight, founder and director of the Center for Adolescent Substance Abuse Research at Boston Children&#39;s Hospital. &quot;When adults entering addiction treatment are asked when they first began drinking or using drugs, the answer is almost always the same: They started when they were young &mdash; teenagers,&quot; said Knight.</p></div></div></div><p>Smoking, drinking and some forms of drug use among teens have declined in the U.S. in recent years, but an estimated 2.2 million adolescents &mdash; 8.8 percent of youth aged 12 to 17 years old &mdash; are currently using an illicit drug, according to a<a href="http://www.samhsa.gov/data/sites/default/files/National_BHBarometer_2014/National_BHBarometer_2014.pdf">&nbsp;2014 Behavioral Health Barometer</a>&nbsp;prepared for the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA).</p><p>Drug use changes brain development, and when substances are used during adolescence, young people are much more likely to become addicted, Knight said. &quot;When people start using at younger ages, the changes in brain structure and function are very, very pronounced,&quot; he explained. &quot;If we could only get kids to postpone their first drink or their first use of drugs, we could greatly diminish the prevalence of addiction in the U.S.&quot;</p><p>And in some places, teenagers may be using more, sooner. &quot;In the last several years, it seems like the kids that we see in services are far sicker than in the past,&quot; said Sara Ellsworth, clinical supervisor at True North Student Assistance and Treatment Services in Olympia, Wash.</p><p>Last year, True North served nearly 700 students in 44 mostly rural school districts. Increasingly, she said, kids who come for help have a history of victimization or significant trauma, such as domestic violence, physical or sexual abuse, parental incarceration or substance abuse, rape or homicide. More than half also had at least one mental health disorder.</p><p>Despite some improvements in the national youth substance abuse numbers, Ellsworth has witnessed a disturbing new pattern: kids who start using alcohol or marijuana at ever younger ages as a form of self-medication, who quickly escalate to more dangerous drugs, and who wind up using multiple substances in extreme amounts. &quot;Maybe the average kid is using less and doing better, but the kids who are falling through the cracks are spiraling down, really fast,&quot; she said.</p><p>About 10 percent of Americans will develop a substance use disorder at some point in their lives and need therapeutic services, according to Rob Vincent, a SAMHSA public health analyst. But those services are hard to come by, especially for youth.</p><p>&quot;Once a child 12 to 17 years old is identified as needing treatment, only 1 in 20 of those adolescents is actually getting treatment. That is not a good number,&quot; said Vincent.</p><div id="res455675848" previewtitle="Yolanda Roberson, who directs the Empowerment program, teaches a class at a Boys and Girls Club in the Bronx. The classes are funded by the state of New York."><p data-crop-type=""><img alt="Yolanda Roberson, who directs the Empowerment program, teaches a class at a Boys and Girls Club in the Bronx. The classes are funded by the state of New York." src="http://media.npr.org/assets/img/2015/11/11/yolanda_custom-65e43a1848b947f8adfc69539a2c6f57fb7a07d9-s800-c85.jpg" style="height: 426px; width: 620px;" title="Yolanda Roberson, who directs the Empowerment program, teaches a class at a Boys and Girls Club in the Bronx. The classes are funded by the state of New York. (Robert Stolarik for NPR)" /></p><div><div><p>So public health officials and researchers are making the case for prevention instead. Dealing with drug and alcohol abuse after the fact is a costly, impractical approach, so public health officials and researchers are making the case for early detection and intervention instead.</p></div></div></div><p>The leading prevention strategy, dubbed SBIRT &mdash; Screening, Brief Intervention and Referral to Treatment &mdash; is deployed in schools, afterschool programs and most widely, in primary and public health care.</p><p>Most pediatricians routinely screen patients for substance problems during annual visits. That&#39;s a big change from just 20 years ago, when the American Academy of Pediatrics found that fewer than half of pediatricians reported they were screening adolescents for substance use. By 2013, that percentage had risen to more than 80 percent, according to&nbsp;<a href="http://www.childrenshospital.org/doctors/sharon-levy">Dr. Sharon Levy</a>, director of the adolescent substance abuse program at Boston Children&#39;s Hospital.</p><p>&quot;I interpret that as a real shift in culture, from one in which there was controversy over whether drug use was a legitimate topic for pediatricians to address to one in which it&#39;s now part of the standard of care,&quot; Levy said. She sees the pediatrician&#39;s office as an ideal place to discuss substance abuse. &quot;It&#39;s a unique setting in which an adolescent gets to have a confidential conversation&quot; with an adult who is not their parent.</p><p>Doctors use one of a variety of screening tools, including one, called CRAFFT, that was developed by Knight. It asks six questions, including: &quot;Have you ever ridden in a car driven by someone (including yourself) who was &quot;high&quot; or had been using alcohol or drugs?&quot;</p><p>In many doctors&#39; offices, the survey is now computerized or given as a questionnaire before the medical visit, so doctor and patient can discuss the results. (You can take the CRAFFT screening test<a href="http://www.ceasar-boston.org/CRAFFT/selfCRAFFT.php">&nbsp;here</a>; it&#39;s available in 13 languages, including Khmer and Haitian Creole.)</p><p>Other screening tools widely in use are called frequency-based screens. Those tools use multiple-choice questions which ask teenagers how often they have used alcohol or marijuana to predict their risk of developing an addiction.</p><p>If screening turns up troubling behavior, the second step is brief intervention. In the doctor&#39;s office, that could be a five-minute conversation with the two elements that Knight says comprise a good brief intervention: science and stories. &quot;What they want from doctors is, &#39;Tell us what the science is, don&#39;t tell us what to do; give us the information and trust us to make the right decisions.&#39; &quot;</p><p>The intervener can also be a therapist, counselor or youth development worker. They often use what&#39;s called &quot;motivational interviewing.&quot; That&#39;s the approach used by&nbsp;<a href="http://www.rand.org/about/people/d/damico_elizabeth_j.html">Elizabeth D&#39;Amico</a>, a licensed clinical psychologist and senior behavioral scientist at RAND Corporation, who developed&nbsp;<a href="http://www.childtrends.org/?programs=choice">CHOICE</a>, a voluntary afterschool prevention and intervention program in California.</p><p>&quot;Motivational interviewing is about guiding someone to make a healthy choice,&quot; D&#39;Amico said, &quot;versus saying, &#39;Okay, you have a problem and you need to change.&#39; &quot;</p><p>Counselors have to acknowledge there are reasons why young people use alcohol or drugs, D&#39;Amico said. &quot;You lose all your credibility if you just say, &#39;It&#39;s bad for you, stop.&#39; &quot;</p><p>Instead, motivational interviewing is more collaborative, said D&#39;Amico. For example, if a teen says he drinks to relax, the counselor can help him to think of other, healthier ways to relieve stress. Studies have found a&nbsp;<a href="http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3353018/">modest benefit</a>&nbsp;in the program, with some students delaying drinking.</p><p>The third step of a prevention strategy, referral to treatment, connects youth who need more care with specialty treatment. Levy said most teenagers with a drug or alcohol problem don&#39;t need a residential program, or even an intensive outpatient program. Instead, they&#39;ll do fine working one-on-one with a counselor, she said.</p><p>In Washington, Ellsworth at True North Student Assistance and Treatment Services says that students served by the prevention programming have done better. In the last academic year, students said their use of marijuana and cocaine declined by half after participating in the program, and alcohol use declined by one-third. Participants also had better grades and fewer behavior problems at school.</p><div id="res455666785" previewtitle="Students in the Empowerment program talk about myths surrounding substance abuse. The program emphasizes healthy lifestyles."><p data-crop-type=""><img alt="Students in the Empowerment program talk about myths surrounding substance abuse. The program emphasizes healthy lifestyles." src="http://media.npr.org/assets/img/2015/11/11/hand_custom-3897531e31c7a388b1f855840b9d45acbe8856ad-s800-c85.jpg" style="height: 420px; width: 620px;" title="Students in the Empowerment program talk about myths surrounding substance abuse. The program emphasizes healthy lifestyles. (Robert Stolarik for NPR)" /></p><div><div><p>Even the computerized CRAFFT screening, with a few minutes of counseling by a pediatrician, has been shown to deter substance use, according to a&nbsp;<a href="http://archpedi.jamanetwork.com/article.aspx?articleid=203511">study</a>&nbsp;led by Knight and published in the journalPediatrics&nbsp;in 2002.&nbsp;&quot;The intervention resulted in 40 percent less substance use three months after the visit, and 12 months later there was still 25 percent less use, without any reinforcement. That&#39;s pretty powerful,&quot; said Knight.</p></div></div></div><p>Prevention is a cost-effective proposition, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), with every dollar invested in keeping kids off drugs saving from $4 in health-care costs to $7 in law enforcement and other criminal justice costs. According to NIDA, research-based prevention programs can significantly reduce early use of tobacco, alcohol and illicit drugs.</p><p>Yet according to Knight, &quot;of all the money that is spent by the federal government on the so-called war on drugs, only 5 percent goes to prevention.&quot; That&#39;s a short-sighted approach, he said. &quot;The evidence is compelling that addiction is a pediatric disease, and if we don&#39;t prevent it during the teen years, we&#39;re really missing the boat.&quot;</p><p><strong><span style="font-size:20px;">Brothers and sisters</span></strong></p><p><em>Hurt. Grief. Anger. Three sisters and one brother reflect on their dead siblings&#39; drug addictions.</em></p><p style="text-align: center;"><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="281" mozallowfullscreen="" src="https://player.vimeo.com/video/144760358" webkitallowfullscreen="" width="500"></iframe></p><p><a href="http://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2015/11/12/455654938/to-prevent-addiction-in-adults-help-teens-learn-how-to-cope?utm_campaign=storyshare&amp;utm_source=twitter.com&amp;utm_medium=social" target="_blank"><em>&mdash; via NPR</em></a></p></p> Fri, 13 Nov 2015 09:50:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/prevent-addiction-adults-help-teens-lean-how-cope-113768 How do stereotypes of mental health affect us? http://www.wbez.org/programs/ted-radio-hour/2015-11-06/how-do-stereotypes-mental-health-affect-us-113672 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/alixgen.JPG" alt="" /><p><div id="res453994994" style="text-align: center;"><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="315" mozallowfullscreen="" scrolling="no" src="http://embed.ted.com/talks/alix_generous_how_i_learned_to_communicate_my_inner_life_with_asperger_s.html?zone=npr2" style="box-sizing: border-box; margin: 0px; padding: 0px; border-width: 0px; border-style: initial; font-style: inherit; font-variant: inherit; font-weight: inherit; font-stretch: inherit; font-size: inherit; line-height: inherit; font-family: inherit; vertical-align: baseline;" webkitallowfullscreen="" width="560"></iframe></div><div id="res454901983"><br /><div>&nbsp;</div></div><p><em>Check out part two of the&nbsp;TED Radio Hour&nbsp;episode&nbsp;<a href="http://www.npr.org/programs/ted-radio-hour/453993626/headspace" target="_blank">Headspace</a>.</em></p><hr /><p><span style="font-size:20px;"><strong>About Alix Generous&#39; TED Talk</strong></span></p><p>Twenty-three-year-old&nbsp;<a href="http://www.alixgenerous.com/" target="_blank">Alix Generous</a>&nbsp;describes her years-long journey through misdiagnosis in the mental health system and how it affected her sense of confidence and self-worth.</p><p><a href="https://twitter.com/generousalix" target="_blank">Alix Generous</a>&nbsp;is a student, mental health advocate and researcher who is passionate about molecular biology and neuroscience. She encourages people like her to share their intelligence and insights.</p><p>She is co-owner of the startup&nbsp;<a href="http://www.autismsees.com/" target="_blank">AutismSees</a>, which develops technology to help all kinds of people give presentations and be better prepared for job or college interviews.</p><p>As a student, Generous has published her research on coral reefs in the journalConsilience. She has also served as a youth delegate for the UN Convention of Climate Change (COP19).</p><p>&nbsp;</p></p> Fri, 06 Nov 2015 10:39:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/programs/ted-radio-hour/2015-11-06/how-do-stereotypes-mental-health-affect-us-113672 Know the signs: for some, post-pregnancy is anything but magical http://www.wbez.org/news/know-signs-some-post-pregnancy-anything-magical-113596 <p><div id="res453735737" previewtitle="Paige and Bjorn Bellenbaum pose while on a skiing trip with their two kids, Max, 9, and Ella, 7. After Paige sought help for what she learned to be postpartum depression, the Bellenbaums say they feel stronger now."><div data-crop-type=""><img alt="Paige and Bjorn Bellenbaum pose while on a skiing trip with their two kids, Max, 9, and Ella, 7. After Paige sought help for what she learned to be postpartum depression, the Bellenbaums say they feel stronger now." src="http://media.npr.org/assets/img/2015/11/01/bellenbaum_wide-a70e33efc73fd1d2d761ac57086122b8e11f856c-s800-c85.jpg" style="height: 348px; width: 620px;" title="Paige and Bjorn Bellenbaum pose while on a skiing trip with their two kids, Max, 9, and Ella, 7. After Paige sought help for what she learned to be postpartum depression, the Bellenbaums say they feel stronger now. (Courtesy of the Bellenbaum family)" /></div><div><div><p>The definition of postpartum depression is broad. The symptoms can range anywhere from feeling exhausted and disconnected from your baby to paranoia that someone else might hurt your child or, even worse, that you yourself might do your baby harm.</p></div></div></div><p>While this wide-ranging spectrum makes it hard to diagnose, the CDC says&nbsp;<a href="http://www.cdc.gov/reproductivehealth/depression/">between 8 and 19 percent of women</a>&nbsp;suffer from postpartum depression.</p><p>A decade ago, Brooke Shields kicked off a national conversation when she talked publicly about her own depression after the birth of her first child.</p><p>And it&#39;s still news every time a woman in the public eye talks about it. Drew Barrymore wrote about her experience in a new memoir and actress Hayden Pantierre recently checked into a treatment center for postpartum depression.</p><p>Since then, the stigma around postpartum depression has lessened. But when Paige Bellenbaum and her husband, Bjorn Bellenbaum, had their first son, now 9, there was not as much awareness.</p><p>This week on&nbsp;<a href="http://www.npr.org/tags/399382645/for-the-record">For the Record</a>: The battle with postpartum depression.&nbsp;Click on the audio link on this page to listen to the full conversation.</p><div><hr /></div><p>A few months after an easy conception, Paige and Bjorn were excited to find out they were having a boy. And while Paige stressed out a lot during the pregnancy, she didn&#39;t overthink what would come after giving birth.</p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/1.JPG" style="height: 205px; width: 300px; float: right; margin-left: 5px; margin-right: 5px;" title="" />&quot;What I thought, which is what I think most women think, unless told otherwise, that having a child was going to be a magical, wonderful and beautiful experience,&quot; she says. &quot;But I think Bjorn was actually more of the practical person who was thinking about the aftermath more than I was.&quot;</p><p>In fact, Paige says the birth was terrible.</p><p>&quot;It was the most traumatic physical experience I&#39;ve ever had in my life.&quot;</p><p>The one thing that softened it, she says, was Bjorn&#39;s opposite reaction.</p><p>&quot;It was incredible,&quot; Bjorn says. &quot;It always makes me sad, you know, to hear your side of it, that it was such a traumatic thing.&quot;</p><p>This was the beginning of the gaping hole that would develop between Paige and Bjorn and the vastly different way they experienced early parenthood.</p><p>During the first few weeks, Paige vividly recalls wanting to feel that unconditional love only described to her, but says she only felt physical pain and emptiness after the physical trauma.</p><p>&quot;I found myself thinking in those first few weeks, &#39;I wish I could stuff him back up there,&#39; &quot; she says. &quot;I feel like he&#39;s safer there than he is out here.&quot;</p><p>Bjorn took a week off from work after the baby was born, but even then he was still on email and not completely present. They didn&#39;t want any family to come in to help so after that first week, Paige was all alone with the baby. And it started to overwhelm her.</p><p>&quot;I kept thinking there was always something wrong,&quot; she says. &quot;He was sleeping too much ... He&#39;s not eating enough ... and I was always trying to convince Bjorn in the beginning that there were problems and we needed to go to the doctor and take care of it.&quot;</p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/2.JPG" style="height: 198px; width: 300px; margin-left: 5px; margin-right: 5px; float: right;" title="" />Bjorn says it took him time to realize Paige needed help because he lacked perspective.</p><p>&quot;I didn&#39;t know what was normal, what was not normal,&quot; he says. &quot;It was clear that Paige was really nervous, but that also seemed not uncommon.&quot;</p><p>And he had his own stressors of fatherhood and finances that intensified the disconnect with his wife.</p><p>All the while, Paige&#39;s depression got worse.</p><p>&quot;I did not feel any love attraction for my son,&quot; she says, and she would sit crying throughout the day.</p><p>Paige even found herself staring into the medicine cabinet and contemplating suicide.</p><p>It&#39;s worth noting that she&#39;s a social worker and part of her job is to be able to spot signs of depression in other people.</p><p>&quot;Even I, as a trained clinician, was unable to notice the symptoms,&quot; she says, &quot;because I was so far gone.&quot;</p><p>Then, a turning point came for Paige when she took 5-month-old Max for a walk.</p><p>&quot;Everything around me felt gray,&quot; she recalls. &quot;I noticed that I just, I didn&#39;t know who I was. I was walking toward the corner with Max in the stroller, and I looked to the right and I saw a bus coming. And I looked at the bus and I had this impulse out of nowhere to throw myself and Max in front of the bus and just end it ... as the bus passed, I remember looking at my reflection in the windows of the bus and the faces looking back at me, but seeing my face, and being like &#39;Who is that person?&#39; ... I had to do something to save myself and to save my son.&quot;</p><p>So she took a cab to Manhattan&#39;s Payne Whitney Psychiatric Clinic, where she was diagnosed with severe postpartum depression. A team of medical professionals suggested she get on medication immediately.</p><p><img alt="When Paige and Bjorn Bellenbaum had their second child, they knew the symptoms of postpartum depression — and were able to push back against it." src="http://media.npr.org/assets/img/2015/11/01/bellenbaums2_custom-45a71667017299740497f65918d785aa5ec14844-s400-c85.png" style="float: left; margin-left: 10px; margin-right: 10px; height: 452px; width: 300px;" title="When Paige and Bjorn Bellenbaum had their second child, they knew the symptoms of postpartum depression — and were able to push back against it. (Courtesy of the Bellenbaum family)" /></p><p>She did and eventually she got better. The darkness lifted and she started to see her baby boy in a different way.</p><p>Then, less than a year later, Paige got pregnant again. It wasn&#39;t planned, and she didn&#39;t know if she could go through with it again.</p><div id="res453742338" previewtitle="When Paige and Bjorn Bellenbaum had their second child, they knew the symptoms of postpartum depression — and were able to push back against it."><div><div><p>&quot;That was a big blow,&quot; she says. &quot;And I considered not having the baby. I remember one afternoon ... [Bjorn] looking at me and saying &#39;I love you, I&#39;ll do whatever you want, I just don&#39;t want to lose you.&#39; And that I will never forget. Because I knew in that moment that I didn&#39;t want to lose you either, and that we were going to figure out a way to do this together.&quot;</p></div></div></div><p>They had a baby girl and everything was different this time. They knew the signs of postpartum depression and they knew how to push back, but only because they had been there before.</p><p>Paige thought if more people knew what signs to look for, more moms could get help earlier. Last year, she helped write a new law in New York state aimed at educating more families on symptoms of maternal depression. It also gives pediatricians a process to screen and refer new mothers who might be struggling.</p><p>Postpartum depression can pull some couples apart and they never find their way back. Paige and Bjorn did, and they say they&#39;re stronger for it. Their daughter Ella is rambunctious, they say, and Max is the sensitive one.</p><p>He&#39;s just like her, Paige says.</p><p>&mdash; <a href="http://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2015/11/01/453618924/know-the-signs-for-some-post-pregnancy-is-anything-but-magical?ft=nprml&amp;f=453618924" target="_blank"><em>via NPR</em></a></p></p> Mon, 02 Nov 2015 12:59:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/know-signs-some-post-pregnancy-anything-magical-113596 Missed Treatment: Soldiers with mental health issues dismissed for 'misconduct' http://www.wbez.org/news/missed-treatment-soldiers-mental-health-issues-dismissed-misconduct-113562 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/14006211340_825e7fb5d9_o.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Staff Sgt. Eric James, an Army sniper who served two tours in Iraq, paused before he walked into a psychiatrist&#39;s office at Fort Carson, Colo. It was April 3, 2014. James clicked record on his smartphone, and then tucked the phone and his car keys inside his cap as he walked through the door to the chair by the therapist&#39;s desk.</p><p>As he sat there sharing his fears and telling the therapist he&#39;d been thinking about suicide &mdash; all while secretly recording the entire session &mdash; James was inadvertently helping to bring a problem within the Army to light: As it tries to deal with thousands of soldiers who misbehave after returning from Iraq and Afghanistan and then being diagnosed with mental health disorders and traumatic brain injuries, the military sometimes moves to kick them out of the service rather than provide the treatment they need.</p><p>The Army tried to dismiss James in 2013, because he had been stopped for drunken driving two years earlier. This despite pledges by Army commanders and a 2009 congressional edict to make sure such misconduct is not the result of mental issues brought home from the wars.</p><p>Saying he wanted evidence to protect himself, James made secret recordings of more than 20 hours of sessions with therapists and officers at Fort Carson. In the recordings, counselors can be heard berating him for suggesting he has serious mental health problems. They try to convince him his experiences in Iraq were not too traumatic &mdash; and even seem to ignore him when he talks about wanting to commit suicide.</p><div id="res452320375"><div data-crop-type=""><img alt="Eric James with his mother, Beverly Morris, and father, Robert James. Eric secretly recorded more than 20 hours of sessions he had with behavioral health specialists and Army officials." src="http://media.npr.org/assets/img/2015/10/27/eric-james_custom-be5b4a28a440ad22f075b03318719aacb50f3646-s800-c85.jpg" style="height: 482px; width: 620px;" title="Eric James with his mother, Beverly Morris, and father, Robert James. Eric secretly recorded more than 20 hours of sessions he had with behavioral health specialists and Army officials. (Michael de Yoanna/Colorado Public Radio)" /></div><div><p>When Army leaders heard about the recordings, they ordered an investigation. It concluded that James had been mistreated, and two of his therapists were subsequently reprimanded.</p></div></div><p>But the general who runs the Army&#39;s medical system said the investigation also reached another conclusion: The mistreatment of soldiers at Fort Carson was &quot;not systemic.&quot;</p><p>NPR and Colorado Public Radio also conducted an investigation, based on hours of secret recordings from James, hundreds of pages of confidential documents from Fort Carson, and interviews with dozens of sources both inside and outside the base. And that evidence suggests the Army failed to pursue key evidence in its investigation, ruling out claims of mistreatment from nine other war veterans without ever interviewing or even contacting the men.</p><p>And according to figures acquired by NPR and CPR under the Freedom of Information Act, the Army has been pushing out soldiers diagnosed with mental health problems not just at Fort Carson but at bases across the country.</p><p>The figures show that since January 2009, the Army has &quot;separated&quot; 22,000 soldiers for &quot;misconduct&quot; after they came back from Iraq and Afghanistan and were diagnosed with mental health problems or TBI. As a result, many of the dismissed soldiers have not received crucial retirement and health care benefits that soldiers receive with an honorable discharge.</p><div id="res452600607"><div id="responsive-embed-army-discharges-all-20151027"><iframe frameborder="0" height="988px" marginheight="0" scrolling="no" src="http://apps.npr.org/dailygraphics/graphics/army-discharges-all-20151027/child.html?initialWidth=775&amp;childId=responsive-embed-army-discharges-all-20151027&amp;parentUrl=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.npr.org%2F2015%2F10%2F28%2F451146230%2Fmissed-treatment-soldiers-with-mental-health-issues-dismissed-for-misconduct%3Fft%3Dnprml%26f%3D451146230" style="box-sizing: border-box; margin: 0px; padding: 0px; border-width: 0px; border-style: initial; font-style: inherit; font-variant: inherit; font-weight: inherit; font-stretch: inherit; font-size: inherit; line-height: inherit; font-family: inherit; vertical-align: baseline;" width="100%"></iframe></div></div><p>The cases of the 10 soldiers we investigated raise a question: Why would commanders kick out soldiers for misconduct, instead of giving them more intensive treatment or a medical retirement on the grounds that they have persistent mental health problems? Sources both inside and outside Fort Carson suggested one possible answer: It takes less time and money to get rid of problem soldiers on the grounds of misconduct.</p><p>One of the Army&#39;s top officials who oversees mental health, Lt. Col. Chris Ivany, tells NPR and CPR that the Army is not violating the spirit of the 2009 law by dismissing tens of thousands of soldiers for misconduct after they came back from the wars, even though they were diagnosed with TBI or mental health disorders.</p><p>For instance, he says the soldiers&#39; &quot;functional impairment was not severe&quot; enough in some cases to affect their judgment. In other cases, the soldiers&#39; disorders might have been serious when they were diagnosed, but their &quot;condition subsequently improved&quot; before they committed misconduct &mdash; so they can&#39;t blame the war for causing them to misbehave.</p><p>And in other cases, Ivany says, soldiers&#39; medical records show they were diagnosed with a mental health disorder &mdash; but only because a medical worker wrote it down as &quot;a preliminary best estimate, but on further evaluation, the diagnosis was clarified&quot; and perhaps dropped. All this &quot;clearly shows that there is no systemic attempt&quot; to dismiss soldiers with mental problems on the grounds of misconduct, Ivany says.</p><p>Army officials would not discuss any of the current and former soldiers&#39; cases, on the grounds that they&#39;re protecting the men&#39;s privacy.</p><p>James says he never set out to &quot;expose&quot; Fort Carson or embarrass anybody. He says he started recording his meetings with officers and mental health staff to keep an accurate record of the conversations.</p><p>James&#39; two tours in Iraq occurred during some of the bloodiest fighting. He watched through his sniper scope as his targets died and he saw his buddies die, too. He suffered a traumatic brain injury when his Humvee flipped upside down, according to Army records.</p><p>James&#39; parents say he began to unravel after he returned to Fort Carson in 2009.</p><p>&quot;It&#39;s pretty hard as a parent to see your kid go the way he did,&quot; says his father, Robert James. &quot;He was happy-go-lucky. Now he&#39;s depressed, and he&#39;s always down and out.&quot;</p><p>&quot;This isn&#39;t the boy, the young man, I raised,&quot; says his mother, Beverly Morris. &quot;He is totally a whole different person.&quot;</p><p>James says after he came home from his last deployment, his life was in shambles.</p><p>&quot;I was angry; I was getting in fights. I drank at least 12 beers every night, so I could pass out &mdash; that was the only way I could get any sleep. It&#39;s like my mom said, she was the person I&#39;d always call, and I would call her, you know, after I&#39;d been drinking so much and it&#39;s late at night and I&#39;d tell her, &#39;Mom, look, I need help. Every day I wish I was dead,&#39; &quot; James says.</p><p>Then one night in 2011, local police pulled James over for drunken driving in Colorado Springs. Two years later, officers at Fort Carson told him they were going to &quot;chapter&quot; him out of the Army for misconduct, as a result of that DUI. James says he knew that meant he might never get the retirement pay or health insurance that the Army promised when he enlisted. Getting forced to leave without an honorable discharge could also mean that he could have trouble finding a decent job.</p><p>We&nbsp;<a href="http://www.npr.org/series/11609328/mental-health-care-at-fort-carson">first reported in 2006</a>&nbsp;that Fort Carson was kicking out some soldiers who had mental health problems and committed &quot;misconduct,&quot; instead of helping them. Less than three years later, Congress passed the law to help stop the practice.</p><p>The law does not forbid the Army to dismiss troops with mental disorders who commit misconduct, but a spokesman for one of the key congressional committees that drafted the language says members of Congress &quot;wanted to make sure the military was not putting people out that have service-related medical issues because the services have a responsibility to get them the care they need.&quot;</p><p><strong>Secret Recordings Lead To Investigation</strong></p><p>James&#39; recordings veer from mundane conversations about scheduling appointments to sessions in which James despairs about his life.</p><p>In one, James tells a therapist that he feels angry and miserable most of the time. He doesn&#39;t trust anybody, and he isolates himself.</p><p>&quot;Like, remember I told you I&#39;m like, I feel like I&#39;m coming into a combat zone when I drive on the base,&quot; he asks the counselor. And then he starts trying to talk about some of his scariest experiences in Iraq. &quot;In, like, one month, there was over 1,000 IEDs and multiple ambushes.&quot;</p><div id="res452318217"><div data-crop-type=""><img alt="Evans Army Community Hospital, which stands on the Fort Carson military base, is a central part of the base's behavioral health system." src="http://media.npr.org/assets/img/2015/10/27/evans_custom-71c2d82e183d532d7a0ab9de393b14c46f6f878d-s800-c85.jpg" style="height: 413px; width: 620px;" title="Evans Army Community Hospital, which stands on the Fort Carson military base, is a central part of the base's behavioral health system. (Courtesy of Evans Army Community Hospital/U.S. Army)" /></div><div><div><p>Standard therapy textbooks say that counselors can help patients best when they are supportive, build trust and are empathetic. When patients feel safe enough to share their deepest fears, a therapist can then help them understand their problems and start to get better.</p></div></div></div><p>The therapist responds, interrupting him: &quot;Yeah, it was a suck fest ... big time. ... But it was not an emotionally crippling experience,&quot; she declares. &quot;Because for the last six years, you&#39;ve been able to get up and come to work. Have you had things that lingered and it affected you? Yes. But you&#39;re not emotionally crippled. You&#39;re not a in a corner rocking back and forth and drooling.&quot;</p><p>In another session, James meets with one of the Army&#39;s chief psychiatrists at Fort Carson. A few weeks before, James had filled out a survey used to help diagnose PTSD. James ranked many of his symptoms as &quot;5s,&quot; the most extreme symptoms, which potentially signals that the person is in crisis. But the Army psychiatrist doesn&#39;t try to get James to open up and explain his answers. Instead, the psychiatrist challenges him.</p><p>&quot;When I see &#39;extreme,&#39; you should be in a hospital,&quot; the psychiatrist says in a confrontational tone. &quot;People that put that down, all those 5s, most of those people need to be in a hospital to be stabilized.&quot;</p><p>The psychiatrist suggests that since James is able to report for duty at Fort Carson, he must be exaggerating his symptoms.</p><p>&quot;Because right now, you shouldn&#39;t be walking around, if that&#39;s how bad you&#39;re doing,&quot; the psychiatrist says gruffly, after scolding James and repeatedly interrupting him.</p><p>In yet another session, with another Army psychiatrist at Fort Carson, James sounds like he&#39;s close to the breaking point. He cries audibly as he tells the psychiatrist that he wanted to kill himself hours before.</p><p>&quot;I can&#39;t do it, Sir, I&#39;m ... losing my mind,&quot; James says. &quot;Like, last night I just wanted to ... take all my pills and,&quot; James pauses, his voice shaking, &quot;couldn&#39;t do it sir. This is killing me, physically and mentally.&quot;</p><p>As James continues sniffling, the psychiatrist changes the topic. He speaks in a soothing voice, but he never asks James what he is feeling about committing suicide.</p><p>&quot;I spent almost a week listening to all of Eric James&#39; recordings,&quot; says Andrew Pogany, CEO of Uniformed Services Justice and Advocacy Group, a legal services nonprofit that Pogany and a colleague created to help soldiers in trouble. &quot;It painted a picture that was mortifying. And horrifying.&quot;</p><div id="res452250146"><div data-crop-type=""><img alt="Andrew Pogany and Robert Alvarez, co-founders of the Uniformed Services Justice and Advocacy Group, alerted the Army's surgeon general to 10 Fort Carson soldiers who were dismissed for &quot;misconduct&quot; instead of being given more intensive mental health treatment." src="http://media.npr.org/assets/img/2015/10/27/andrew-and-robert-edit_custom-e8b4b72084ce3da6b7e82ea658716686638c3bd1-s800-c85.jpg" style="height: 413px; width: 620px;" title="Andrew Pogany and Robert Alvarez, co-founders of the Uniformed Services Justice and Advocacy Group, alerted the Army's surgeon general to 10 Fort Carson soldiers who were dismissed for &quot;misconduct&quot; instead of being given more intensive mental health treatment. (Michael de Yoanna/Colorado Public Radio)" /></div><div><div><p>Pogany used to be a soldier himself at Fort Carson. He fought back against the Army for mistreating him, and won. Pogany and his co-director, Robert Alvarez, sent some of James&#39; recordings to Charles Hoge, a psychiatrist and retired colonel who advises Lt. Gen. Patricia Horoho, the Army&#39;s surgeon general.</p></div></div></div><p>&quot;What no one fully appreciates is the serious nature of what transpired during clinical encounters with at least two mental health providers at Fort Carson,&quot; Hoge warned one of the general&#39;s top aides in an&nbsp;<a href="https://www.documentcloud.org/documents/2489041-email-from-charles-hoge-to-lt-gen-patricia-horoho.html">internal email</a>. He wrote that some of what he heard &quot;demonstrates unprofessionalism, hostility, and lack of empathy&quot; and &quot;potential for negligence leading to significant potential harm.&quot;</p><p>Less than one month later, Horoho ordered an investigation of Fort Carson. She announced&nbsp;<a href="https://www.documentcloud.org/documents/2489022-investigation-summary.html">the results</a>&nbsp;at a press conference in February.</p><p>&quot;The investigation concluded that we had two providers that actually showed a lack of dignity and respect to one soldier,&quot; Horoho told reporters. In other words, the investigation found that James was the only soldier at Fort Carson who had been mistreated.</p><p>&quot;I thought the investigation was a very thorough investigation. I believed it gave the facts and certified that there wasn&#39;t a systemic problem,&quot; she said.</p><div id="res452050826"><div data-crop-type=""><img alt="Lt. Gen. Patricia Horoho, the Army's surgeon general, ordered an investigation at Fort Carson and concluded mistreatment of soldiers was &quot;not systemic.&quot;" src="http://media.npr.org/assets/img/2015/10/26/horoho-2014_custom-affa3d349b103b5141643de89a6498785289fde0-s400-c85.jpg" style="height: 360px; width: 300px; float: right; margin-left: 10px; margin-right: 10px;" title="Lt. Gen. Patricia Horoho, the Army's surgeon general, ordered an investigation at Fort Carson and concluded mistreatment of soldiers was &quot;not systemic.&quot; (U.S. Army)" /></div></div><p>Also, according to Horoho, two of the therapists who worked with James had been reprimanded.</p><p>Meanwhile, commanders at Fort Carson did a dramatic about-face: Instead of dismissing James from the Army, they sent him for treatment at the National Intrepid Center of Excellence in Bethesda, Md., the nation&#39;s top military center for TBI and PTSD. The Army also gave James a medical retirement, with honor and full benefits.</p><p>Horoho also ordered staff at Fort Carson to get special training. According to an Army document, mental health employees took a few hours off work to discuss issues such as &quot;dignity and respect during patient encounters.&quot; The Army also made it easier for soldiers to appeal if they feel they have been mistreated.</p><p>But Horoho stressed the takeaway conclusion two more times at the press conference: &quot;I have not seen anything that&#39;s systemic in the way that our behavior health providers treat our patients,&quot; she added.</p><p>Here&#39;s what&#39;s curious about Horoho&#39;s declarations: Documents show that the Uniformed Services Justice and Advocacy Group told investigators under oath that commanders and mental health staff at Fort Carson have mistreated many soldiers &mdash; and thrown many out of the Army for misconduct after they came home from the wars with mental health problems. The advocates told investigators about nine current and former soldiers, in addition to James, who they said were typical cases.</p><p>NPR and CPR contacted all of those soldiers. They told us that Horoho&#39;s investigators never contacted them.</p><p>&quot;Every case has a slightly different flavor, there&#39;s slightly different facts to it,&quot; says Pogany. &quot;But when you take a step back, it is all the same stuff. If [Army officials] honestly want to fix this problem, they need to understand what&#39;s going on here and they need to admit that this is going on across the board.&quot;</p><p><strong>The Case Of Jason Holmer</strong></p><p>Consider the case of Jason Holmer &mdash; one of the names on the list that investigators never called. Holmer deployed three times to Afghanistan and Iraq. The Army awarded him the Bronze Star, one of the service&#39;s most prestigious medals.</p><p>One night, Holmer and his unit were ambushed. A mortar round landed about 10 meters from him &quot;and it lifted us up off the ground,&quot; Holmer says.</p><p>That was the first possible TBI documented in Holmer&#39;s medical records.</p><p>The story of what happened after he came home echoes James&#39; transformation. Holmer says his wife told him he was a different person &mdash; and they divorced. His medical records show he suffered &quot;major depression&quot; and &quot;feelings of hopelessness&quot; and &quot;high irritability.&quot; He had trouble remembering things &mdash; a common TBI symptom &mdash; and he couldn&#39;t sleep.</p><p>&quot;I had one doctor saying, &#39;Oh, you just got some anxiety, here&#39;s some sleeping medication and antidepressants. You&#39;ll be fine,&#39; &quot; Holmer says.</p><p>Instead, Holmer started drinking a lot. Then one night in 2012, police found him sleeping in his blue Dodge Ram pickup truck, parked along the side of the road. They charged him with driving under the influence. And three days later, the Army started the process of dismissing him for misconduct.</p><p>Commanders sent Holmer to a therapist at Fort Carson, in line with the 2009 law, to evaluate whether PTSD or TBI might have played a role in causing his behavior. His medical records show he had some classic symptoms.</p><p>But soon, Holmer received a curious email written by the therapist. The therapist had not intended Holmer to see it, but she sent her email to an officer who accidentally forwarded it to Holmer.</p><p>&quot;At this time, while [Holmer] may have a significant [behavioral health] condition, I&#39;ll be able to clear him,&quot; the therapist wrote. &quot;I believe it would be in our best interest to assist in expediting the process.&quot; In military language, that means it would be in their best interest to kick Holmer out for misconduct.</p><p>The therapist signed her email with a smiley face.</p><p><strong>The Case Of James Vanni</strong></p><p>And consider the case of Sgt. James Vanni. He deployed to Iraq in 2004, and then was assigned to a base near Sadr City.</p><p>&quot;Our Day 1, we got ambushed,&quot; he says. &quot;Day 1. We lost eight guys dead that day, and 60 more wounded.&quot;</p><div id="res452245758"><div data-crop-type=""><img alt="James Vanni, at his home in Colorado Springs, Colo." src="http://media.npr.org/assets/img/2015/10/27/colorado-ptsd-investigation-stroomer-017_custom-74e518dd2d17b19a44a8ce2d3fa215a9b9258671-s800-c85.jpg" style="height: 412px; width: 620px;" title="James Vanni, at his home in Colorado Springs, Colo. (Theo Stroomer for NPR)" /></div><div><div><p>Vanni and his wife say he still wakes up screaming from a recurring nightmare about the first victim he watched die that day.</p></div></div></div><p>After he returned home, he started&nbsp;&nbsp;unraveling &mdash; much like the other eight soldiers whom the Army&#39;s investigators did not interview. His Army records list at least one TBI, and possibly more, and show that he reported getting frequent headaches and was forgetting things. An ambulance took him to the emergency room one morning because it looked like he was having a heart attack. It turned out to be a panic attack.</p><p>Vanni&#39;s wife, Michelle, says he would also fly into rages, &quot;screaming and yelling and throwing stuff&quot; at her and their two children. &quot;It&#39;s like he hated to be around us,&quot; she says.</p><p>He also kept threatening to kill himself.</p><div id="res452321915"><div data-crop-type=""><img alt="Vanni and his wife, Michelle, in 2008." src="http://media.npr.org/assets/img/2015/10/27/vanni-personal_custom-2afee36def2657c6a9fd732289a93305b1d579c8-s400-c85.jpg" style="height: 186px; width: 300px; float: right; margin-left: 10px; margin-right: 10px;" title="Vanni and his wife, Michelle, in 2008. (Courtesy of James Vanni)" /></div><div><p>At 1 a.m. the day before Christmas, Vanni freaked out after he and Michelle had an argument. Vanni says he can&#39;t remember much about what happened. &quot;The whole incident is really blurry to me,&quot; he says.</p></div></div><p>&quot;He came in the house screaming and yelling, and he made absolutely no sense,&quot; Michelle says. &quot;I mean, he even turned and he was just talking to the wall, like he was talking to somebody. He was pointing the gun, but there was no magazine in it, you know I didn&#39;t know that, so I tried to call 911, because he was scaring me. &quot;</p><p>Michelle says when the police arrived she told them he was depressed, suicidal and needed help.</p><p>&quot;They told me they were taking him to a hospital,&quot; she says.</p><p>Instead, the police took Vanni to jail.</p><p>Officers at Fort Carson then started the process of dismissing Vanni from the Army without benefits, on the grounds that he committed domestic violence. An Army psychiatrist evaluated Vanni, as the law requires.</p><p>His conclusion: &quot;This service member does not suffer from any deployment related mental health issues,&quot; the psychiatrist wrote. It was the same psychiatrist who was later reprimanded for mistreating James.</p><div id="res452321559"><div data-crop-type=""><img alt="The dining room at the Vanni home." src="http://media.npr.org/assets/img/2015/10/27/colorado-ptsd-investigation-stroomer-020_custom-c661ae7a5dac1a2243e64706fa192258362ac01c-s800-c85.jpg" style="height: 415px; width: 620px;" title="The dining room at the Vanni home.(Theo Stroomer for NPR)" /></div><div><p><strong>Independent Adviser: Soldiers Deserve &#39;Benefit Of The Doubt&#39;</strong></p></div></div><p>Horoho&#39;s spokeswoman, Maria Tolleson, acknowledged that investigators did not get in touch with the nine soldiers whom soldiers&#39; rights advocates named as examples of how some troops at Fort Carson have been mistreated. She wrote in an email that Army staff reviewed soldiers&#39; files &quot;for quality and standard of care in accordance with [the Army&#39;s] regulatory guidance,&quot; and the &quot;review of these files did not reveal any provider misconduct.&quot;</p><p>But NPR and CPR also obtained the soldiers&#39; records, with their permission, and we asked three independent psychiatrists to review them. Two of those psychiatrists served as top medical officers in the military. And all three say that based on the records they have seen, they would have advised the Army not to dismiss these soldiers for misconduct.</p><p>&quot;Especially for our soldiers who are coming back not just with post-traumatic stress disorder, but with traumatic brain injury and other wounds, I really think that we as a society need to take that into account,&quot; says Col. Elspeth Ritchie, who served as the Army&#39;s top adviser on mental health during some of the worst fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan. &quot;I think as a society, they deserve to have us do everything we can to support them. I absolutely would want them to get the benefit of the doubt.&quot;</p><p>Some sources who work with Fort Carson say perhaps commanders used to dismiss soldiers unfairly, but things have changed.</p><p><img alt="Bottles of medicine at Vanni's home. He says he still has nightmares from his time serving in Iraq." class="img" src="http://media.npr.org/assets/img/2015/10/27/colorado-ptsd-investigation-stroomer-019_custom-067d2b00a2ee02ee8ec8987ddd698e0167e55841-s400-c85.jpg" style="box-sizing: border-box; margin: 0px 10px; padding: 0px; border: 0px; font-stretch: inherit; font-size: 14px; line-height: 18.6667px; font-family: Helvetica, Arial, sans-serif; vertical-align: baseline; max-width: none; display: block; height: 207px; width: 300px; float: left; background-color: rgb(255, 255, 255);" title="Bottles of medicine at Vanni's home. He says he still has nightmares from his time serving in Iraq. (Theo Stroomer for NPR)" /></p><p>&quot;I&#39;m encouraged by this. I think there&#39;s been a shift,&quot; says Miriam Blum, an independent psychologist in Colorado Springs. She estimates that she has treated hundreds of soldiers based at Fort Carson. &quot;What I experience, what I hear from soldiers and what I see with soldiers, is that Fort Carson is doing many things to address the mental health issues of the soldiers before any kind of disciplinary procedure is even remotely considered. I see [that] soldiers who are seeking help are getting help.&quot;</p><p>Peter Chiarelli, the Army&#39;s vice chief of staff from 2008 to 2012, agrees that commanders at Fort Carson, and other bases across the country, are doing a far better job of identifying and helping soldiers in trouble. But he says NPR and CPR are making the issue of mental health and misconduct sound simpler than it really is.</p><p>&quot;It would be wonderful if we could tell 100 percent of the time whether or not that misconduct is because an individual is, in fact, acting bad or it&#39;s because they have some kind of a mental issue,&quot; Chiarelli says. &quot;But the fact of the matter is &mdash; and this is the important point for you to understand &mdash; is our diagnostics are so horrible we cannot always make that determination.&quot;</p><p>Chiarelli says that given the uncertainties and the enormous pressures on the Army, it makes sense for commanders to push out soldiers who have mental health problems and commit misconduct.</p><p>&quot;Does it make sense if they&#39;re going to be nondeployable for a long period of time, and if we don&#39;t have good diagnostics and good treatments, yes it does make sense. Because I need deployable soldiers inside my ranks,&quot; he says. &quot;The Army has a mission and that&#39;s to fight and win our nation&#39;s wars. When people have any kind of an illness and are not deployable, they&#39;re not going to be available to do that.&quot;</p><p>Actually, it turns out that some of the soldiers NPR and CPR followed did not get kicked out after all. That includes Vanni and Holmer. An Army official, speaking on background, says that demonstrates that commanders are willing to take a second look and reverse course and treat soldiers fairly.</p><p>The soldiers we interviewed say that commanders took that second look only after the soldiers&#39; rights advocates intervened and threatened to take their stories to Congress and the media.</p><p><strong>The Case Of Larry Morrison</strong></p><p>Meanwhile, our investigation found that Fort Carson has decided to dismiss yet another soldier to whom the Army awarded the Bronze Star &mdash; suggesting that Horoho&#39;s actions have not fixed the problems.</p><p>Sgt. Larry Morrison, 42, has served 20 years in the Army. He led soldiers on three deployments in Afghanistan and Iraq. Army records show Morrison was scheduled for a medical retirement due to chronic PTSD, with honor and full benefits, on March 17 of this year. But at roughly 3 p.m. that day, Morrison&#39;s commander handed him a document announcing that the Army was going to dismiss him for misconduct instead.</p><div id="res452049727" previewtitle="Larry Morrison is appealing the Army's decision to dismiss him for misconduct."><div data-crop-type=""><img alt="Larry Morrison is appealing the Army's decision to dismiss him for misconduct." src="http://media.npr.org/assets/img/2015/10/26/morrison-edit_custom-d68933cb7cfa1e4d25635e6dde48f35ba3557ba5-s800-c85.jpg" style="height: 410px; width: 620px;" title="Larry Morrison is appealing the Army's decision to dismiss him for misconduct. (Michael de Yoanna/Colorado Public Radio)" /></div></div><p>Officers who have served with Morrison told us he is one of the best leaders they have ever known. Capt.Tyson Walsh, who commanded Morrison in Afghanistan in 2010 and 2011, says Morrison was &quot;phenomenal&quot; and served as one of his platoon sergeants during a &quot;brutal deployment.&quot;</p><p>Walsh says Morrison was the mentor who held the unit together.</p><p>&quot;The Sgt. Morrison I know stands for honesty and integrity,&quot; he says. &quot;I&#39;ve had to put my life in his hands more than once. And every single time I did, it was the right answer.&quot;</p><p>But Army documents list three justifications for kicking him out: Morrison pleaded guilty two years earlier to drunken and reckless driving, and, according to the Army, he belongs to a &quot;criminal&quot; motorcycle gang that a federal report links to shootings and drugs.</p><p>Morrison and other soldiers told us it&#39;s not a gang but one of the most popular bike clubs for African-American troops.</p><p>Fort Carson&#39;s decision to dismiss Morrison is not yet final. Because he has served so many years, the Department of the Army has to sign off, and he&#39;s still waiting to hear the final decision. Meanwhile, he&#39;s working part time as a security guard at a chain clothing store.</p><p>&quot;I&#39;ve given [the Army] all of my youthful years. I&#39;m 42 years old now,&quot; Morrison says, in a defeated-sounding monotone. &quot;And now they want to put me out with no benefits, they want to give me an other-than-honorable discharge &mdash; so I can&#39;t get a job, I can&#39;t go to school &mdash; and take my retirement away. So they want to put me on the streets with nothing.&quot;</p><p>Morrison says he struggles to get just a few hours of sleep each night before he wakes up from recurring nightmares about a buddy who was killed in Afghanistan. A doctor prescribed medication to help him sleep, but Morrison says he doesn&#39;t always take it.</p><p>&quot;Nightmares are bad but at the same time, they&#39;re good, actually, because the nightmares help you remember the guys that are gone,&quot; Morrison says. &quot;And you know you can&#39;t go see them, you can&#39;t call them and you can&#39;t go talk to them. So sometimes you want the nightmares &mdash; to help you to spend time with the guys that are actually gone.&quot;</p><p>NPR and CPR sent more than half a dozen emails to Horoho, telling her that soldiers like Morrison are still getting kicked out of Fort Carson and asking to talk with her about the issues. We also asked to interview the top two generals in the Army, to find out what they make of the fact that the Army has pushed out tens of thousands of troops in recent years who came back from the wars with mental health disorders.</p><p>None of the generals would meet with us.</p><p><em>NPR&#39;s Courtney Mabeus and Barbara Van Woerkom contributed to this report.</em></p><p>&mdash; <a href="http://www.npr.org/2015/10/28/451146230/missed-treatment-soldiers-with-mental-health-issues-dismissed-for-misconduct?ft=nprml&amp;f=451146230" target="_blank"><em>via NPR</em></a></p></p> Thu, 29 Oct 2015 16:25:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/missed-treatment-soldiers-mental-health-issues-dismissed-misconduct-113562 More than 100 police chiefs and prosecutors unite to cut prison population http://www.wbez.org/news/more-100-police-chiefs-and-prosecutors-unite-cut-prison-population-113442 <p><div id="res450338247" previewtitle="&quot;Our officers are losing all day long on arrest reports and at lockups dropping off prisoners,&quot; said Ronal Serpas, co-chair of the new group, Law Enforcement Leaders to Reduce Crime and Incarceration."><div data-crop-type="" style="text-align: center;"><img alt="&quot;Our officers are losing all day long on arrest reports and at lockups dropping off prisoners,&quot; said Ronal Serpas, co-chair of the new group, Law Enforcement Leaders to Reduce Crime and Incarceration." src="http://media.npr.org/assets/img/2015/10/20/gettyimages-149191841_wide-d1179c0a869de686c7920137763f1ef4edfdc379-s800-c85.jpg" style="height: 348px; width: 620px;" title="&quot;Our officers are losing all day long on arrest reports and at lockups dropping off prisoners,&quot; said Ronal Serpas, co-chair of the new group, Law Enforcement Leaders to Reduce Crime and Incarceration. (Sean Gardner/Getty Images)" /></div><div><div><p>More than a hundred of the nation&#39;s top police chiefs and prosecutors are joining forces today to launch a new effort to cut the number of people in prison. The new coalition of 120 heavyweights, called Law Enforcement Leaders to Reduce Crime and Incarceration, is based on one big idea: Putting too many people behind bars doesn&#39;t keep the public safe.</p></div></div></div><p>&quot;Our experience has been, and in some ways it&#39;s counterintuitive, that you really can reduce crime and incarceration at the same time,&quot; said Ronal Serpas, co-chair of the group.</p><p>Serpas spent about 35 years in law enforcement, in jobs that took him from New Orleans to Washington state to Nashville. He told NPR he&#39;s come to believe that the justice system should conserve resources to handle the most serious and violent offenders. In too many cases, Serpas said, that doesn&#39;t happen now.</p><p>&quot;Our officers are losing all day long on arrest reports and at lockups dropping off prisoners &mdash; it&#39;s for low-level offenders who pose no threat to the community, are posing very little to no threat for recidivism, and overwhelmingly are just folks who have mental health or drug addiction problems that there&#39;s no place else for them to go,&quot; he said.</p><p>Serpas said he and other members of the group will be speaking out and trying to change state and federal laws. Their goals include cutting tough mandatory minimum prison terms, opening up more alternatives to incarceration like mental health and sobriety centers, and fostering better relationships with communities of color.</p><div class="image-insert-image " style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/In%20this%20photo%20taken%20Thursday%2C%20Feb.%2020%2C%202014%2C%20prisoners%20from%20Sacramento%20County%20await%20processing%20after%20arriving%20at%20the%20Deuel%20Vocational%20Institution%20in%20Tracy%2C%20Calif.%20California%20counties%20are%20thwarting%20the%20state%27s%20efforts%20to%20comply%20w.jpg" style="height: 384px; width: 600px;" title="In this photo taken Thursday, Feb. 20, 2014, prisoners from Sacramento County await processing after arriving at the Deuel Vocational Institution in Tracy, Calif. California counties thwarted the state's efforts to comply with a federal court order to reduce its inmate population by sending state prisons far more convicts than anticipated including a record number of second-strikers. (AP PhotoRich Pedroncelli)" /></div><p>Experts in criminal justice policy said the new group marks a big turnaround from the lock &#39;em up practices of 20 years ago.</p><p>&quot;We have been seeing now an incredible shift in the politics of crime and punishment,&quot; said Inimai Chettiar, who directs the justice program at the Brennan Center for Justice.</p><p>Chettiar said over the past few years, police and presidential candidates from both political parties have embraced calls for change. Members of the new group are getting support from the White House, too. They&#39;re scheduled to meet there to discuss their ideas Thursday.</p><p>The new group arrives at a time when federal lawmakers are considering a slate of proposals to overhaul the justice system. This week, the Senate Judiciary Committee will meet to mark up a bill that would give judges more discretion to punish nonviolent drug offenders and offer inmates who pose little risks a way to leave prison early if they attend classes and other programs. Leaders of the House Judiciary Committee have proposed companion legislation.</p><p>&mdash; <a href="http://www.npr.org/sections/itsallpolitics/2015/10/21/450302932/more-than-100-police-chiefs-and-prosecutors-unite-to-cut-prison-population?ft=nprml&amp;f=450302932" target="_blank"><em>via NPR</em></a></p></p> Wed, 21 Oct 2015 11:51:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/more-100-police-chiefs-and-prosecutors-unite-cut-prison-population-113442 Can a cancer drug reverse Parkinson's disease and dementia? http://www.wbez.org/news/can-cancer-drug-reverse-parkinsons-disease-and-dementia-113397 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/parkinsons-1_custom-162d2c49eedb6c0f14a6db56cc27faa6b1cc8ee5-s600-c85.jpg" alt="" /><p><div id="res449200871" previewtitle="Alan Hoffman, shown with his wife Nancy at their home in Dumfries, Va., found that his Parkinson's symptom improved when he took a cancer drug."><div data-crop-type=""><img alt="Alan Hoffman, shown with his wife Nancy at their home in Dumfries, Va., found that his Parkinson's symptom improved when he took a cancer drug." src="http://media.npr.org/assets/img/2015/10/16/parkinsons-1_custom-162d2c49eedb6c0f14a6db56cc27faa6b1cc8ee5-s600-c85.jpg" style="height: 412px; width: 620px;" title="Alan Hoffman, shown with his wife Nancy at their home in Dumfries, Va., found that his Parkinson's symptom improved when he took a cancer drug. (Claire Harbage for NPR)" /></div><div><div><p>A drug that&#39;s already approved for treating leukemia appears to dramatically reduce symptoms in people who have Parkinson&#39;s disease with dementia, or a related condition called Lewy body dementia.</p></div></div></div><p>A pilot study of 12 patients given small doses of&nbsp;<a href="http://www.us.tasigna.com/index.jsp">nilotinib</a>&nbsp;found that movement and mental function improved in all of the 11 people who completed the six-month trial, researchers reported Saturday at the&nbsp;<a href="https://www.sfn.org/annual-meeting/neuroscience-2015">Society for Neuroscience meeting</a>&nbsp;in Chicago.</p><p>And for several patients the improvements were dramatic, says&nbsp;<a href="https://neurology.georgetown.edu/faculty/pagan">Fernando Pagan</a>, an author of the study and director of the Movement Disorders Program at Georgetown University Medical Center. One woman regained the ability to feed herself, one man was able to stop using a walker, and three previously nonverbal patients began speaking again, Pagan says.</p><p>&quot;After 25 years in Parkinson&#39;s disease research, this is the most excited I&#39;ve ever been,&quot; Pagan says.</p><p>If the drug&#39;s effectiveness is confirmed in larger, placebo-controlled studies, nilotinib could become the first treatment to interrupt a process that kills brain cells in Parkinson&#39;s and other neurodegenerative diseases, including Alzheimer&#39;s.</p><p>One of the patients in the pilot study was Alan Hoffman, 74, who lives with his wife, Nancy, in Northern Virginia.</p><p>Hoffman was diagnosed with Parkinson&#39;s in 1997. At first, he had trouble moving his arms. Over time, walking became more difficult and his speech became slurred. And by 2007, the disease had begun to affect his thinking.</p><p>&quot;I knew I&#39;d dropped off in my ability to read,&quot; Hoffman says. &quot;People would keep giving me books and I&#39;d have read the first chapter of about 10 of them. I had no ability to focus on it.&quot;</p><p>&quot;He had more and more difficulty making sense,&quot; Nancy Hoffman says. He also became less active, less able to have conversations, and eventually stopped doing even household chores, she says.</p><p>But after a few weeks on nilotinib, Hoffman &quot;improved in every way,&quot; his wife says. &quot;He began loading the dishwasher, loading the clothes in the dryer, things he had not done in a long time.&quot;</p><p>Even more surprising, Hoffman&#39;s scores on cognitive tests began to improve. At home, Nancy Hoffman says her husband was making sense again and regained his ability to focus. &quot;He actually read the David McCullough book on the Wright Brothers and started reading the paper from beginning to end,&quot; she says.</p><p>The idea of using nilotinib to treat people like Alan Hoffman came from&nbsp;<a href="http://explore.georgetown.edu/people/cem46/">Charbel Moussa</a>, an assistant professor of neurology at Georgetown University and an author of the study.</p><p><strong>Before and after taking nilotinib</strong></p><p>Mary Leigh has had Parkinson&#39;s Disease for almost 20 years. Here she is before the treatment and after five months of being on the drug.</p><div id="res449223084"><div id="slideshow449223084" style="text-align: center;"><iframe frameborder="0" height="338" scrolling="no" src="http://www.npr.org/templates/event/embeddedVideo.php?storyId=448323916&amp;mediaId=449223084" width="600"></iframe></div><div>(Courtesy of Georgetown University)</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div style="text-align: center;"><iframe frameborder="0" height="338" scrolling="no" src="http://www.npr.org/templates/event/embeddedVideo.php?storyId=448323916&amp;mediaId=449241356" width="600"></iframe></div><div>(Courtesy of Georgetown University)</div></div><p>&nbsp;</p><p>Moussa knew that in people who have&nbsp;<a href="http://www.alz.org/dementia/parkinsons-disease-symptoms.asp">Parkinson&#39;s disease with dementia</a>&nbsp;or a related condition called&nbsp;<a href="https://www.nia.nih.gov/alzheimers/publication/lewy-body-dementia/introduction">Lewy body dementia</a>, toxic proteins build up in certain brain cells, eventually killing them. Moussa thought nilotinib might be able to reverse this process.</p><p>His reasoning was that nilotinib activates a system in cells that works like a garbage disposal &mdash; it clears out unwanted proteins. Also, Moussa had shown that while cancer cells tend to die when exposed to nilotinib, brain cells actually become healthier.</p><p>So Moussa had his lab try the drug on brain cells in a Petri dish. &quot;And we found that, surprisingly, with a very little amount of the drug we can clear all these proteins that are supposed to be neurotoxic,&quot; he says.</p><p>Next, Moussa had his team give the drug to transgenic mice that were almost completely paralyzed from Parkinson&#39;s disease. The treatment &quot;rescued&quot; the animals, he says, allowing them to move almost as well as healthy mice.</p><p>Moussa&#39;s mice got the attention of Pagan from Georgetown&#39;s Movement Disorders Program. &quot;When Dr. Moussa showed them to me,&quot; Pagan says, &quot;it looked like, hey, this is type of drug that we&#39;ve been looking for because it goes to the root of the problem.&quot;</p><p>The pilot study was designed to determine whether nilotinib was safe for Parkinson&#39;s patients and to determine how much drug from the capsules they were taking was reaching their brains. &quot;But we also saw efficacy, which is really unheard of in a safety study,&quot; Pagan says.</p><p>The study found that levels of toxic proteins in blood and spinal fluid decreased once patients began taking nilotinib. Also, tests showed that the symptoms of Parkinson&#39;s including tremor and &quot;freezing&quot; decreased. And during the study patients were able to use lower doses of Parkinson&#39;s drugs, suggesting that the brain cells that produce dopamine were working better.</p><p>But there are some caveats, Pagan says. For one thing, the study was small, not designed to measure effectiveness, and included no patients taking a placebo.</p><p>Also, nilotinib is very expensive. The cost of providing it to leukemia patients is thousands of dollars a month.</p><div id="res449201324" previewtitle="Hoffman says his symptoms have gotten worse since he stopped taking the medication as part of a study."><div data-crop-type=""><img alt="Hoffman says his symptoms have gotten worse since he stopped taking the medication as part of a study." src="http://media.npr.org/assets/img/2015/10/16/parkinsons-2_custom-ae81fad485eeb2e0ca45b16ccf7d9a25c8ccad9a-s600-c85.jpg" style="height: 412px; width: 620px;" title="Hoffman says his symptoms have gotten worse since he stopped taking the medication as part of a study. (Claire Harbage for NPR)" /></div><div data-crop-type="">And finally, Parkinson&#39;s and dementia patients would have to keep taking nilotinib indefinitely or their symptoms would continue to get worse.</div></div><p>Alan Hoffman was okay for about three weeks after the study ended and he stopped taking the drug. Since then, &quot;There&#39;s (been) a pretty big change,&quot; his wife says. &quot;He does have more problems with his speech, and he has more problems with cognition and more problems with mobility.&quot;</p><p>The Hoffmans hope to get more nilotinib from the drug&#39;s maker, Novartis, through a special program for people who improve during experiments like this one.</p><p>Meanwhile, the Georgetown team plans to try nilotinib in patients with another brain disease that involves toxic proteins: Alzheimer&#39;s.</p><p>&mdash; <a href="http://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2015/10/17/448323916/can-a-cancer-drug-reverse-parkinsons-disease-and-dementia?ft=nprml&amp;f=448323916" target="_blank"><em>via NPR</em></a></p></p> Mon, 19 Oct 2015 11:57:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/can-cancer-drug-reverse-parkinsons-disease-and-dementia-113397 Is the resilience of millennials underrated? http://www.wbez.org/news/resilience-millennials-underrated-113281 <p><div class="image-insert-image " style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Katherine%20Streeter%20for%20NPR.jpeg" style="height: 336px; width: 600px;" title="(Katherine Streeter for NPR)" /></div><div><p>I&#39;m a member of Generation Y, or the millennial generation. People like me were born in the &#39;80s and early &#39;90s. But I don&#39;t like to broadcast that fact. Millennials tend to get a bad rap.</p><p>Journalists and commentators love ragging on us. They say we&#39;re ill-prepared to deal with life&#39;s challenges. And that, as a result, we have higher rates of mental health issues like depression and anxiety.</p><p>These ideas have been coming up over and over again for almost a decade now. There&#39;s psychologist&nbsp;<a href="http://www.jeantwenge.com/">Jean Twenge</a>, for instance, who in 2006 published a book called<em> Generation Me: Why Today&#39;s Young Americans Are More Confident, Assertive, Entitled &mdash; and More Miserable Than Ever Before</em>. &quot;In past generations, suicide and depression were considered afflictions of middle age,&quot; she writes. &quot;But for Generation Me, these problems are a rite of passage through adolescence and young adulthood&quot;</p><p>Then there&#39;s&nbsp;<a href="http://www.slate.com/articles/health_and_science/medical_examiner/2013/12/millennial_narcissism_helicopter_parents_are_college_students_bigger_problem.html">the Slate article</a>&nbsp;from a couple of years ago, titled &quot;Why Millennials Can&#39;t Grow Up.&quot; The explanation, according to psychotherapist Brooke Donatone: &quot;Their biggest challenge is conflict negotiation and they often are unable to think for themselves.&quot; Last year, in&nbsp;<em>Vanity Fair,</em> Bret Easton Ellis&nbsp;<a href="http://www.vanityfair.fr/culture/livre/articles/generation-wuss-by-bret-easton-ellis/15837">called us</a>&nbsp;&quot;Generation Wuss.&quot; Even NPR has asked: Are millennials&nbsp;<a href="http://www.npr.org/2014/10/14/352979540/getting-some-me-time-why-millennials-are-so-individualistic">too narcissistic</a>? Do they&nbsp;<a href="http://www.npr.org/2014/04/16/303741790/debate-millennials-dont-stand-a-chance">stand a chance</a>?</p><p>And now we&#39;re starting to turn against ourselves. In a recent&nbsp;Telegraph&nbsp;article reporter Rachael Dove, a self-identifying millennial, wrote&nbsp;<a href="http://www.telegraph.co.uk/women/womens-health/11534390/Anxiety-the-epidemic-sweeping-through-Generation-Y.html">a piece</a>&nbsp;titled &quot;Anxiety: the epidemic sweeping through Generation Y.&quot;</p><p>My friend Jay and I recently had a good laugh as we read through these articles together. &quot;Harsh,&quot; he said. &quot;But also kind of ridiculous.&quot;</p><p>Still, I wondered: Could it be true? Could it be that millennials really are more depressed and anxious than young people from generations past?</p><p>&quot;I&#39;ve definitely heard reports regarding increased levels of psychopathology among millennials,&quot; says&nbsp;<a href="http://mitch.web.unc.edu/">Mitch Prinstein</a>, a psychologist at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. &quot;But I&#39;m not sure there are data to support that.&quot;</p><p>It&#39;s true that young adulthood can be a turbulent time &mdash; for folks from any generation, Prinstein says. So young people are&nbsp;<a href="http://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/statistics/prevalence/major-depression-among-adults.shtml">more likely</a>&nbsp;than older adults to say they experienced a depressive episode in the past year.</p><p>But we can&#39;t really compare how depressed millennials are with how it was for our parents and grandparents when they were young. That&#39;s because researchers weren&#39;t very good at collecting data on mental illness back in the &#39;60s and &#39;70s, when the baby boomers were in their late teens and 20s. The federal government does have&nbsp;<a href="http://www.samhsa.gov/data/sites/default/files/NSDUHmhfr2013/NSDUHmhfr2013.pdf">data</a>&nbsp;going back to the early 2000s, and depression rates haven&#39;t increased since then.</p><p>There are&nbsp;<a href="http://www.cdc.gov/violenceprevention/suicide/statistics/aag.html">better stats</a>&nbsp;on suicide among young people. Suicide rates for young adults increased through the &#39;70s and &#39;80s, but started dropping off in the late &#39;90s and have continued to decrease. So, it seems young people these days don&#39;t have higher rates of suicide than generations past.</p><p>So where does this idea that millennials&#39; mental health is declining even come from? Prinstein thinks people get that impression because we milliennials are full of angst. That&#39;s not new. But unlike past generations,&nbsp;<a href="http://www.npr.org/2014/10/14/352979540/getting-some-me-time-why-millennials-are-so-individualistic">we like to broadcast</a>&nbsp;our angst.</p><p>&quot;Millennials are certainly using social media in a way that we haven&#39;t seen with other generations,&quot; Prinstein says. &quot;They&#39;re not as shy about sharing their anxieties online.&quot;</p><p>And we do have a lot of things to stress about, he says, like an uncertain employment future and student loans. But stress doesn&#39;t necessarily equate to depression.</p><p>&quot;Depression is a biologically and psychologically driven form of mental illness that is remarkably common,&quot; Prinstein notes, &quot;but that is not necessarily experienced by everybody who is experiencing distress.&quot;</p><p>Still, some, like&nbsp;<a href="http://cacsprd.web.virginia.edu/Psych/Faculty/Profile/Joseph-P-Allen">Joseph Allen</a>, a professor of psychology at the University of Virginia, are concerned. Allen, who specializes in adolescent psychology, says in many cases, parents have worked too hard to make it too easy for their millennial children.</p><p>Parents haven&#39;t challenged millennials to support themselves, he says, and millennials may find it difficult adjusting to adulthood. &quot;If you&#39;re living in the basement and playing video games because you can&#39;t get a job or you haven&#39;t been pushed to get a job, that&#39;s going to leave you feeling aimless and a bit at sea whether or not it counts as clinical depression in a formal way,&quot; Allen says.</p><p>But again, at this point there isn&#39;t any conclusive research to prove that millennials feel especially listless or unfulfilled.</p><p>In any case, Gen Y is doing some things right when it comes to mental health, Prinstein says. Young people are generally more comfortable discussing mental health these days, he notes. And that helps reduce stigma so more people who really need mental health care are getting it.</p><p>&quot;So I&#39;m not sure if it&#39;s fair to characterize millennials as a group as poorly prepared to deal with life,&quot; Prinstein says. &quot;They&#39;re differently prepared.&quot;</p><p>&mdash; <a href="http://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2015/10/12/446928518/is-the-resilience-of-millennials-underrated?ft=nprml&amp;f=446928518" target="_blank"><em>via NPR</em></a></p></div><p>&nbsp;</p></p> Mon, 12 Oct 2015 09:57:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/resilience-millennials-underrated-113281 Mental health training for police on hold http://www.wbez.org/news/mental-health-training-police-hold-113089 <p><div class="image-insert-image " style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/StoryCorps%20141219%20Clark%20Weber.jpg" style="height: 360px; width: 540px;" title="Clark Weber works as a role play actor for a program that trains police officers to handle mental health calls. (Courtesy of StoryCorps)" /></div><p dir="ltr"><em>There are everyday people whose lives are changing as a result of the state&rsquo;s budget problems. We&rsquo;re collecting stories of the people Caught in the Middle.</em></p><p dir="ltr">Chicago Police Officers can take a special training that teaches them how to respond to mental health crisis. As part of that training they practice their new skills by role-playing with people who have a mental illness. But most of the classes are on hold, because the program relies on state cash that isn&rsquo;t coming through. Clark Weber is one of the role players for the training.</p><div><div style="text-align: center;"><em><a href="http://www.wbez.org/tags/caught-middle" target="_blank">MORE STORIES FROM CAUGHT IN THE MIDDL</a><a href="http://www.wbez.org/tags/caught-middle" target="_blank">E</a></em></div><div style="margin: 0px; padding: 0px; border: 0px; font-stretch: inherit; font-size: 14px; line-height: 22px; font-family: Arial, sans-serif; vertical-align: baseline; color: rgb(51, 51, 51); text-align: center;">&nbsp;</div><div><em>We welcome your stories for this series. You can email us at&nbsp;<a href="mailto:caughtinthemiddle@wbez.org?subject=I%27m%20Caught%20in%20the%20Middle">caughtinthemiddle@wbez.org</a>. &nbsp;Be sure to include your name and contact information.</em></div></div><p>&nbsp;</p></p> Mon, 28 Sep 2015 13:09:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/mental-health-training-police-hold-113089