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Minding Michigan

Minding Michigan is Stateside's ongoing series that examines mental health issues in our state.

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One of the very top mental health concerns in this country is anxiety. It’s sometimes hard to be clear about what anxiety is and how to recognize it, especially in children, but identifying a mental health issue like anxiety early on can make a huge difference for a child’s future success.

An older woman and a younger girl laugh.
Mohammad Meenhaj Uddin / https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0/legalcode

There’s an old adage that laughter is the best medicine. 

Michigan State University psychiatrist Dr. Farha Abbasi believes there’s some scientific truth to that. 

Lindsey Scullen / Michigan Radio

Jeff Edwards is on a mission to go into as many schools as possible to talk to as many kids as possible about mental health, depression and suicide.

Edwards is the board chairman of the Southeast Michigan Chapter of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, and this issue is very personal for him. 
 

His son Chase was 12 years old when he died by suicide in 2003.

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College campuses are filling up with students again, which means all the associated stress is returning to campuses too.

Da Capo Press, 2017

He was a welcome presence on ESPN and ABC for decades. During his 30 years at ESPN, John Saunders lived every sports fan’s dream job.

But even as this one-time Western Michigan University hockey player rose to become one of the country’s most popular sportscasters, he secretly battled depression – and endured personal traumas that are hard to believe.

Courtesy of the Dawson family

On yesterday's Stateside, we heard about a young Flint man named Justin Dawson.

Tony Dawson is Justin's grandmother.

"He's 28 years old, but I would say mentally probably about seven or eight years old," she said. "He's always been a good boy. He did graduate from special ed classes – just way behind, way behind mentally."

Courtesy of the Dawson family

What happens to someone when they're found mentally incompetent to stand trial in Michigan? One Flint man's story offers some clues.

Justin Lee Dawson is severely developmentally disabled. Though Dawson is 28 years old, his family says he has the IQ of a six-year-old child.

african american woman leaning against door frame
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The Next Idea

We live in a world of stereotypes, as disappointing as that can be sometimes.

Here’s one of them: black women never take any guff from anyone and they are always strong.

No one is always strong. Bad things happen in life, and we all experience tragedies. So when an African-American woman is struggling with loss, struggling with grief, where can she turn?

Courtesty of K. Foster-Goodrich

Marcel Price is on a mission: use poetry and the spoken word to encourage young people to open up about mental health and wellness.

As "Fable the Poet," this young Michigander has been visiting high schools around Michigan and across the country, helping kids understand their shared struggles.

And now he's taking it national with something he's calling "The Unpacking Tour."

COURTESTY OF SHELDON HILL

Is there hope for a new life after being addicted to drugs or selling drugs?

Detroiter Sheldon Hill is proof there is.

After years of selling and using drugs, and multiple arrests, Hill went into an addiction recovery program. He was in his 40s. And it worked.

Today, Hill's sole mission in life is to keep others from making the mistakes and choices he made as a young man.

four soldiers
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For more than a hundred years, medical practitioners have been trying to figure out post-traumatic stress disorder.

Assistant Professor of Practice Marisa Brandt and Associate Professor of Philosophy Robyn Bluhm, from Michigan State University, recently published an article in The Conversation which tells the story of the invisible trauma caused by war and the sometimes barbaric treatments doctors used on soldiers returning home with PTSD.

The University of Michigan's Comprehensive Cancer Center
cancer.med.umich.edu

The phrase "you have cancer" might be one of the most terrifying collections of words a person can hear in their lifetime.

Many readers have heard that phrase spoken to them, or  have had a close friend or relative experience it. The level of anxiety and other psychological issues that accompany a cancer diagnosis can be overwhelming for many people.

To help combat that, there is now a subspecialty of oncology. It’s called psycho-oncology.

Suicide is the third-leading cause of death among adolescents.
Mercedes Mejia / Michigan Radio file photo

Any news story about a teen dying by suicide tears a hole in our hearts. How did it come to this? Were there warning signs? Would I know if my teen struggled with mental health issues and thoughts of suicide?

Michigan State University psychiatrist Dr. Farha Abbasi joined Stateside to talk about what we can do to prevent suicide, the third-leading cause of death among adolescents.

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Plans to change Michigan’s mental health system would take a step forward under a budget plan moving through the Legislature.

The legislation calls for a pilot program in Kent County that would integrate Medicaid's mental and physical health services under private insurers.

Robert White holds a picture of his sons Fred, 46, and Michael, 32, who are both on the autism spectrum.
Joe Linstroth / Michigan Radio

Major changes could be coming tomorrow in the services for people living with a mental illness or a developmental disability in Michigan.

Spencer Walz
Mercedes Mejia / Michigan Radio

Spencer Walz began struggling with anxiety back in grade school.

Now 25, he speaks from hard-won experience when he talks about helping young people struggling with mental health issues, and how best to help them overcome fears that talking about it will cause additional problems.

pictures of rock garden
Courtesy of @GHHSBucs / Twitter

When a teen is depressed and wrestling with thoughts of suicide, the stigma associated with mental illness can be a huge barrier to reaching out for help.

That's why the culture and climate at school is so crucial. Schools need teachers and administrators who know the warning signs of a mental health crisis and what to do next to support their students. 

At Grand Haven Public Schools, six students have died by suicide since 2011. Those tragic losses have spurred the district to revamp the way they talk about mental health. 

kids walking in a school hallway
Mercedes Mejia / Michigan Radio

Fewer teens  are dying from accidents and disease, but teen deaths from suicide continue to rise.

The Michigan chapter of the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) is offering two programs to high schools for students, teachers and parents in an effort to address this issue.

ryanknap / http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

 

Mental health therapy can take many forms. But what about running?

Sasha Wolff founded a group called “Still I Run.” The group's goal is to encourage people struggling with mental health issues to get out and run. She spoke to Stateside about running for mental health.

Craig Mauger

This story was produced as a collaboration between Michigan Radio and the Michigan Campaign Finance Network. Graphics by Kaye LaFond. 

Michigan lawmakers who will decide whether to hand health insurance plans a major victory this spring have received about $1 million in contributions from committees and executives connected to the plans.

A woman in a dark room
https://www.flickr.com/photos/alachuacounty/12178605035/

 

 

When mental illness strikes a loved one, the first person many families turn to is often a faith-based leader: a priest, a minister, a rabbi, or an imam.

The Ninth Annual Muslim Mental Health Conference aims to help clergy do a better job of helping members of their congregation who are suffering from mental illness.

The conference will run April 13-14th at the Michigan State University Department of Psychiatry.

Thanks to the Community Mental Health Authority in Lansing, Jerri Nicole Wright is 26 years sober and is on the "road to recovery".
Jodi Westrick / Michigan Radio

The future of mental health in the state of Michigan is at a crossroads. Governor Rick Snyder has $2.4 billion in mental health care funding to spend. Lawmakers and advocates on both sides of the health care debate are trying to determine who should manage that money.

Jerri Nicole Wright is a Lansing resident and longtime consumer of state mental health service. She joined Stateside to talk about her journey through Michigan's mental health care system.

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A personal tragedy can open your eyes to things that had previously been out of sight and out of mind.

For Abby Dart, it was her husband’s suicide in 2004. That loss opened her eyes to the stigma we’ve built up around mental health problems. She believes that stigma killed her husband Steve.

Flickr user/Benjamin Watson / http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

Some call it the Doubting Disease.

OCD—Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder—is when you've got recurring, uncontrollable thoughts and behaviors. 

A Health Blog / Flickr - http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

Governor Rick Snyder wants the $2.4 billion in mental health Medicaid money to be turned over to private insurance companies to manage.

He believes that Medicaid funds will be better spent and more people with behavioral issues and mental illnesses will be better served. Mental health would be integrated with physical health under the HMOs.

Many mental health advocates and patients don’t like the idea.

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Trauma comes in many forms: from refugees who were forced to walk over dead bodies as a child on the way to school in a war-torn country, to survivors of sexual assault, to the spiritual trauma many feel living in a nation that is divided and bitter.

Dr. Farha Abbasi, an assistant professor of psychiatry at Michigan State University, joined Stateside to talk about her definition of trauma, what can cause it and how to treat it.

The Toad / Flickr - http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

The question of how to improve Michigan's $2.4 billion mental health care system has been on the front burner for the better part of a year.

The latest twist came when Michigan's 11 Medicaid health plans called on state policy makers to give them a greater say in controlling the system. But it was concern over this very action, of moving control of mental health services out of the public's hands and turning it over to for-profit insurance companies, that sparked the year-long dialogue in the first place.

The move blindsided those who were working on a proposal they thought everyone had agreed upon, including the health plans. Among them is Kevin Fischer, executive director of the National Alliance on Mental Illness of Michigan

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Type the words “holiday depression” into Google search and you will get nearly a million hits.

It's tough enough when you're feeling down, feeling completely out of step with everybody else. But it's even tougher now, during the holidays, with those messages of cheer, those "tidings of comfort and joy."

Dr. Farha Abbasi, a Michigan State University psychiatrist, joined Stateside today to talk about navigating the holiday season if you, or someone you care about, are struggling with depression.

Gov. Rick Snyder formed a workgroup that made 69 recommendations on how the state of Michigan should manage and improve its mental health care system. The question is, how many of those recommendations will be turned into actual policies?
gophouse.com

Early this year, Governor Rick Snyder sent shock waves through Michigan's mental health care community when his proposed 2017 budget included changes in who would control the purse strings.

The Governor proposed taking much of the $2.4 billion mental health care system and switching that from public mental health organizations to private HMOs (Health Maintenance Organizations).

A workgroup made up of state officials, mental health advocates, insurance industry representatives, state mental health providers, and others were formed to look at the issue.

Last week the group released a draft report that, in essence, saw the state reversing its course on shifting mental health funding, at least for now.

person shaking prescription pills from bottle into hand
flickr user frankileon / http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

Michigan has a fierce fight on its hands. A fight to keep people out of the clutches of opioid and heroin addiction. 

The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services offers some stunning numbers that show how badly this fight is going. 

In 1999 there were 99 heroin or opioid overdose deaths. In 2014, that number climbed to 1,001. 

That's 10 times as many deaths in just 15 years.

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