mental health

Police officers are trained to be police, not counselors.  But they frequently encounter people in their jobs who are in mental health crisis, and the usual police techniques would only escalate the situation.

So more police agencies are having their people trained in crisis intervention, and crisis intervention teams (CITs) are now scattered across the land.

Oregon trainers are now offering a higher level of training, for Certified Crisis Intervention Specialists (CCIS).  The idea is to help get people in crisis to the proper services, instead of into jail.

Map of Oregon with clinic locations.
Oregon Health Authority

A proposed bill in the Oregon legislature would boost funding for a new model of behavioral health clinics aimed at treating both the physical and mental health of patients.

Image of woman standing in park.
Erik Neumann/JPR

Medford is a regional hub for mental health services in Southern Oregon. But according to complaints from some patients and therapists, gaps in the mental health system are causing vulnerable people to slip through the cracks.

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It's only a coincidence that we have featured several chats about grief and loss at a time of the year when the nights are long, dark, and cold. 

Into each life a little rain must fall, someone said.  And there's always someone willing to help with an umbrella, metaphorically. 

Two examples share time in our studio: Nancy Mansfield, who wrote The 28 Day Joy Challenge, and Katherine Ingram, who created The Grab-and-Go Grief Kit.

Christian LInder/Wikimedia

Some of the greatest needs in improving health in Jackson and Josephine Counties do not include things like diet and exercise. 

Those are important, too, but the Jefferson Regional Health Alliance recently released its Community Health Improvement Plan, or CHIP, and it laid out some priorities.  Those include better care for mental illness and substance use, safe and affordable housing, and parenting support/life skills. 

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There is a huge difference between knowing the fact that everyone dies, and having to deal with an actual death.  Grief can flatten a human being, sometimes for years. 

The Medford-based nonprofit Winterspring has years of experience helping people cope with their grief, individually and in groups.  And the organization is taking on some new approaches to its work. 

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You came home from the concert and could not bring yourself to throw out the pretty program.  So you saved it.  With the programs from all the other concerts. 

Now those and all the other collected papers are overflowing the double-sized file cabinet you bought to fit them all.  Sound somewhat familiar?  Some of us just hold onto things, and the behavior can get extreme--and entertaining: witness the TV show "Hoarders." 

Social worker Elaine Birchall works with people who have problems with hoarding, and she writes of the problems and solutions in the book Conquer the Clutter: Strategies to Identify, Manage, and Overcome Hoarding, with co-author Suzanne Cronkwright. 

Image of woman sitting at table smiling.
Erik Neumann/JPR


When Lynda Hurst found herself at Jackson County Mental Health in the summer of 2014, she was hoping to find a therapist. Hurst has struggled with homelessness and suicide. She has PTSD and depression. She’d recently had a severe anxiety attack, but was now enrolled in Medicare, the federal health insurance program for people over 65, and was optimistic about her prospects for getting treatment.

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The psychiatrist James Gordon knows a thing or two about trauma, and not just the kind experienced by individuals.  As the director of the Center for Mind-Body Medicine, he works with the kind of trauma that affects entire populations--think Kosovo, Gaza, or Pine Ridge. 

How would a therapist even begin the healing process?  That question and many more are answered in Dr. Gordon's book The Transformation: Discovering Wholeness and Healing After Trauma

It reveals many of the techniques he's used over 50 years in the field. 

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Mental illness is better understood than it once was.  But people who have lived through mental illness and people who work with them say there is still a long road ahead. 

The regional chapter of the National Alliance on Mental Illness, NAMI-Southern Oregon, works to bring stories of mental illness to a general audience with a Movies For Mental Health Film Fest, this weekend (May 18-19) in Ashland and Grants Pass. 

Christian LInder/Wikimedia

Mental illness affects something like 19% of the U.S. population over the course of a year.  So there's a good chance someone you know--or you--will be affected. 

Recognizing that fact, and knowing about treatment options, is critical.  Medford will be the location for a Mental Health Service Information Forum, tomorrow, March 21st.  Reps from La Clinica and Jackson County Mental Health will be on hand. 

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It gives your muscles and joints a good stretching, but yoga is about more than just body health.  It is a way for practitioners to center themselves and find calm. 

So it's only natural that people think of yoga as an aid to mental health.  In fact, there's a whole book about it, Yoga for Mental Health.

Kelly Birch of Ashland is one of the editors and the author of a chapter. 

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A.W. Barnes lost his brother, Mike, to suicide 25 years ago.  They had much in common, being gay brothers in a big conservative family in the Midwest. 

But their relationship was fraught, as were many in the family.  A.W.--Andrew--remembers his brother, his brother's suicide, and the aftermath in a series of essays contained in the book The Dark Eclipse: Reflections on Suicide and Absence

Photo of teenage girl
sasint/Pixabay

Alice Tallmadge lost a beloved niece to suicide nearly three decades ago.  It was at the height of the controversy over "recovered memories," which often involved sexual abuse and often turned out to be false memories. 

Alice Tallmadge lives in Springfield and thinks a great deal about the events that led up to her niece's death.  Tallmadge offers her view of that time and the aftermath in the memoir Now I Can See the Moon

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Suicide rates are higher in rural areas than urban in the United States, by a lot.  The mental healthcare community has turned a lot of attention to rural suicide prevention in recent years. 

It is among the issues addressed and taught in the marriage and family therapy (MFT) program at Oregon Tech in Klamath Falls.  The program recently added a medical family therapy concentration.  Kevin Garrett is the clinical director in the program at OIT. 

Wikimedia

"Love is merely a madness; and, I tell you, deserves as well a dark house and a whip as madmen do..."

So says Shakespeare, anyway. Frank Tallis might agree.

In his new book, The Incurable Romantic and Other Tales of Madness and Desire, writer and clinical psychologist Frank Tallis shares stories from his own practice of patients whose obsessive love of others has turned to madness.

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The expression "I lost myself" rolls off the lips fairly easily.  But it's a real thing for some people. 

For a variety of reasons, there are people who walk the Earth who feel like they are either missing parts of themselves--the "self" is gone--or actually believe they are dead. 

Anil Ananthaswamy tells some of the startling stories in The Man Who Wasn't There

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Mental illness often shows up early in adulthood, but it can affect a person earlier in life. 

This month on Compass Radio we hear from Debra, a Southern Oregon Compass House member who has experienced episodes of mental illness since childhood.

She told Compass House interviewer Bryce Harding that her illness first manifested itself in the form of premonitions – she would actually predict events before they happened. 

Adrián Cerón/Wikimedia

The idea of our wounded younger selves continuing to haunt us into adulthood was brought up years ago by many experts on the mind.  So by now, the idea of an "inner child" should sound familiar. 

Therapist Susan Anderson is more concerned with another part of us, the OUTER child. 

She writes of the issues raised, and how to deal with them, in Taming Your Outer Child: Overcoming Self-Sabotage and Healing from Abandonment

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Spend too much time consuming news, and you can get a real sense the world is in trouble.  Ignoring the news competely is probably not the answer. 

But perhaps an adjustment to our definition of hope is in order. 

Kate Davies certainly recommends such an adjustment in her book Intrinsic Hope: Living Courageously in Troubled Times.  This is a bit different from the kind of conventional hope most of us grew up with. 

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